Standing too close to the edge, time was running out, each new day crossing one of those remaining out. Soon there would be more trailing behind than leading ahead. And in saying goodbye to right now, she would be colliding with a back then she had fled: a space without warmth, security or comfort. In looking to escape, she had become trapped, and the noose about her neck rubbed.
It was a cruel quirk, an uncanny twist, an uncalled for punch, one of those things that just seemed to happen… only mostly to her. Other people sped past: collecting points, accumulating assets, building solid lives filled with substance, stability and structure. While she, on the otherhand, remained stuck, struggling to get her knee to accommodate the slightest incline.
The clock on the wall ticked. The rafters grew cobwebs. Time sped, leaving footprints more durable than memory. Summer faded and autumn arrived, laced with the unpleasant threat of a lonely winter. People packed up. Birds migrated. Animals collected food and disappeared below. The sky darkened. The clouds gathered. The moon wept and the stars fled. It rained and didn’t stop, and the field on which her house sat became a swamp. A beast with nine toes moved in, its cries keeping her up. Aware that it suffered a similar plight, she went to visit it daily, feeding it scraps from the table.
While those in front dwindled and those behind grew, it gradually dawned on her that it was necessary to make a plan. To continue to wander was irresponsible and dangerous. To arrive without a template, worse. Regardless of the motivation that initially inspired it, she needed a place to accommodate the boxes that had come into her possession along the way.
Dragging a large rock from the garden out back, she scratched her ideas into its stony surface, carving out cavities inside of which her secrets could fall asleep safe. She spoke to it, sang to it, wept over it and embraced it, decorating it with leaves, moss and the petals of dying flowers. She kept it warm, watered and dry. Somewhere along the line, she fell in love. And somehow, the deeper she fell, the darker it got, the more excited she herself became, until one day she found that she could face the straight line without buckling or crumpling.
The rock had strengthened her resolve in ways that the monster had not – stirring her spirit, moving her soul, mending the pieces that had broken or cracked. With those she could count on in short supply, their location scattered, she thanked the Universe for sensing her need and seeing fit to send it her way.
by Rebecca L. Atherton
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