There was hardly any light. Her breathing hitched as she squeezed into an entrance that wasn't meant to allow anyone. Infact, it kept everyone out...like a cave from an Indiana Jones movie. The way out was never the same as the way in. A cave full of traps and multiple exits, all leading to deadly creatures or perilous drops. There was very little she could see, so she used her hands to feel the walls as she walked forward, her feet dragging...like they preferred to remain with a seated body. The walls pulsed it seemed...yet it was muted. Not a vibrant thrum, but a low hum..that faded as soon as she honed in on it.
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Breathing in deeply, she struggled to hear a pattern that she'd caught. The cave almost froze, the minute she made up her mind.
The knot in her chest grew thicker and tighter. Dark nothingness beckoned ahead and to the sides. Suddenly, the only option she's chosen her whole life was not viable anymore. She didn't want to back out. She didn't want to leave this place so devoid of light and joy. It had to be understood.
Her foot found a slope unexpectedly. The awful sensation of not being able to catch oneself caused her heart to thump wildly. The echoes of it ricocheted off the cave walls. She slid fast, her bottom on something awfully wet and warm. She had felt this way when she was eight. When she wet the bed in her sleep and dreamed of being lost and uncomfortable. It was a crowded mall then, bright lights and loud voices that intensified her inexplicable isolation.
There appeared a shimmer; a shimmer on the walls and a sudden lightening of the air. Breathing in, heart calming and strangely, the cave growing peaceful, she slid toward a lake. A lake in a cave...how did the water get in? There had to be a way out. She got up feeling the walls again. Was there an opening? A door? How would she cross the lake? Where to anyway? The opposite side was solid rock. The lake was a sapphire sheet. It was easy to mistake it for a solid surface. Only every time she thought, the lake seemed to move. She sat at it's border, contemplating choices. There was no way to go back. Apparently no way to go forward either. That time when she was thirteen and found death meddling in her family for the first time, she had felt the same. Unable to bring back her beloved sister and unable to imagine a future without her. What had she done then? The shutters went down in her mind, more out of habit now, than any real pain or fear. The lake suddenly had little ripples. She tried looking for a source of air. But...nothing.
Sitting back, perched on her heels, she tried pulling up the shutters. What had she done? Her heart had closed. It was then. Her heart and mind had closed to light. And any feeling, most specifically, pain. And love. Which was why her marriage to him was unraveling now. Not because of the absence of love, but because of an overabundance of rationality that made it impossible for pain to be a part of their lives. So there was no pain, no spontaneity and no love. Life was like a science journal, where observations were mentally recorded and outcomes were properly calculated and plotted. Any imbalance in results caused too much turmoil. He hated it, because truly, he loved her. He didn't want to leave even now. "There's hope. All you need to do is let me help you!" He's said, agonized that she would give up on them.
How could she?
She'd leaned in toward the lake as she thought, further and further until she saw her face. She reached out in surprise, and tipped right into the lake. Still calm and sure, she began to wade toward the strip of cave that was the shore. She just seemed to go right in with every big step. Like quick sand, but not so slow. She was being carried downward by currents that could not have been. There was no air! No air...she kicked, lungs on fire, head swimming and images colliding against one another.
Her husband holding her hands at their wedding, her little sister tugging at her hand before the car that ran her over appeared out of nowhere. The images that she had never allowed herself...the little body in pain, her family in shambles, her deep deep fear of the sheer nothingness that life could be and her every attempt at avoiding it.
So much and so little to see.
The black hole appeared and took her straight in where she dropped into a stream. Gasping the little air there was, she lay on it's surface as it carried her on.
Life was all so pointless. And yet, what a shame it would be if not lived. What a shame if one didn't fight for life. But how could she? How could she love and hold on again? What if she lost again?
Weak and wishing for release, she tried to fight as the stream swirled her past giant boulders. Her elbows and knees hurt from pushing them away. Boulders that had been for ever. Strangely, every time she fought back, the boulders nudged and rocked in place. A small body appeared on another boulder, clinging on for dear life. She reached out, to help. A little hand took hers and jumped on her back. "I'm so afraid! The little girl wailed.
"It's going to be alright," She said, suddenly sure. "We'll find a way out."
"How?" the girl asked.
"I don't know, but I will." She said.
"What makes you think you will?" the girl persisted.
Gasping for air, and trying to stay calm, she said, "I trust. I just know."
"Who's there to trust? the girl asked
"I don't know!" She screamed. "I don't know who's there. I don't care if there is no one out there to trust. I'm here. I'll take you and me safely out of here. There's really nothing to be afraid of. Never was!"
Strangely the stream slowed and seemed to swirl around her as the air grew lighter. She lay sprawled on a silky sand bed, hints of water remaining with the sound of crashing waves and the smell of salty sea air.
Getting up, feeling desperately for the tiny body that had clung to her, she felt a massive ache in her chest.
No! She couldn't have done it again. No...not again. Not again.
As rivers of tears poured down her face, for all the years of emptiness, she saw the little girl again. The girl walked toward her, seeming familiar yet different.
"You were right." The girl said, looking into her eyes.
She stared open mouthed into her young face, the child she'd been before the terrible accident, the child who had been afraid of so much.
"You always had me, and I always had you. There was nothing to fear. Leni went when she had to go, and we had nothing to do with it. And we have to live, because it is what we're here to do. And if we didn't, it'd be like fish refusing to swim in the ocean because there could be sharks."
She smiled, stroking the hair she had always hated, but suddenly captivated by the shine and the innocence of the bob.
"So we swim because we can." The girl said.
"Yes. But also, because that's what we do. We live because it's what we do. And we love because it's our fuel. Refusing to love would be refusing to breathe or move or be. And ..." she choked, thinking of him, waiting for her to understand.
"It's okay. Chocolate ice cream is the best when you're sad." The girl said, stroking her hand.
They smiled at each other.
The brilliance enveloped them.
She opened her eyes.
The distant sounds of traffic told her that she was late. 9 am. Standing upright in shock, feeling the love and light still suffusing her body, she raced to find him.
He wasn't there. She called him and waited to hear his voice. "'Lo?" he said, careful and neutral.
"C..could you possibly come home?" she asked.
"Are you alright?" his tone changed at once.
"Yes!Yes...please...I ...I have to talk to you!" she tried very hard not to cry. It would be a first for him to hear that.
He sensed it, and was already out the office door when he said, "I'll be there in fifteen."
When he arrived, she ran right into his arms, surprising him. He had never been received this way before. She was never home when he arrived from work. And when she was home, she would prefer to converse briefly before heading back to work.
"I...I don't want to leave. I'm sorry. I'm so very sorry that I couldn't see." She clung to him as she said this and he fought to keep his own emotion down.
"I'm so glad," he whispered, "but what changed your mind?"
She took him to their room and laying on his chest, told him about her journey.
"So you were meditating when this happened?" he asked.
"The little girl...I wish I could have met her!" he said, smiling.
"Why?" she asked.
"Just to hug her and tell her that it was all going to be okay." he said, gathering his wife to him. "Do you know where those caves are? Think there's actually such a place? Maybe we could find it."
She sat up, looked at him and considered her answer. "I know there's such a place. And I know where it is. As for finding the caves, I think I've always known where to look."
"I believe I journeyed inward into my own heart, love. It was quite scary!"
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