A long time ago I wrote a poem that turned into a story. I love how things turn out that way sometimes. I love the unexpected. I love how words can turn into a whole world that resides inside your head. What began over a year ago, has stuck with me even now...and here is another glimpse into the world I like to visit every so often when I get the chance to let my imagination run wild...
They stood there for what felt like an eternity...the old man from the tower and the young woman from the muddy field.
Eyes locked in a moment of understanding...connection...empathy.
Echoes of the single word that had fallen from the old mans lips still ringing in her ears.
A sigh escapes her as he removes his warm and soothing hands from her tear stained cheeks.
It's familiar...safe...like coming home as a kid when the street lights came on...sweaty hair, sunkissed from a day spent playing with the neighbourhood kids. Walking through the back door into the well-lit kitchen and seeing your mom standing there at the stove..stirring a pot of spaghetti sauce for dinner...the smells swirling around you...embracing you as you step into that glow of home.
The old man is familiar in the same way...familiar, and yet she can't quite recall why...it's just out of her grasp...blurred memories that live on the outskirts of her exhausted mind.
He takes her hand in his and leads her away from the field...away from the trees...into a horizon of unknown steps and loaded questions.
No words are spoken...and yet she feels compelled to follow...focusing on placing one foot in front of the other...listening to the wind blow through the old mans fine white hair and letting her thumb trace the edges of his fingers that are intertwined with her own. She wonders how many miles he has walked in his years...how many visions of wonder and change his pale blue ancient eyes have seen...how many hands his gnarled and oddly strong fingers have held.
The ground beneath her feet becomes rutted and full of stones...some twinkling in the slowly setting sun...sending out firelight sparks of beauty all around...dust motes dance across her vision as she allows herself to be lead to the mouth of an unknown cave.
For the first time since he uttered the word hope in the field, the old man turns to the woman and very gently tells her that what she seeks is on the other side of the cave. He explains that it will be dark...darker than the blackest night. Her journey to the other side will be long...and she will want to give up and turn around...she will want to come back to the safety of the light behind her...but she can't. He speaks so softly and confidently that she almost believes him for a second. She feels his words seep into her mind and ignite a spark of confidence that she didn't even know existed....but then she glances up at the black hole before her. Vines hang all around the cave entrance...seeming to taunt her...begging her to try and step over the threshold so they can grab her and yank her right off her feet. She looks back at the old mans eyes...his wrinkled face lit up in a smile...believing in her...urging her on.
Fear and doubt seeps into her mind and numbs her limbs...her feet feel like cement blocks fused to the path beneath her. She knows she must go...she must leave the safety of the old mans presence...she must travel this part of her journey alone. As she forces her feet to begin moving again, she enters the cave with one thought alone...I can do this...I can keep moving...I can because I must.
She glances back one last time to see the old man lift his arm and wave goodbye...calling out to her...you will never be alone...the choice is yours and your journey has already begun.
You will never be alone again as long as you trust.
I will see you on the other side...waiting with open arms.