I Came to the Edge
I was walking in the woods on a path that was pretty narrow, but very clear cut. The trees were really tall, like redwoods, and full of green leaves. It felt like a room with the leaves as the ceiling. I don’t remember that bit of the path very well, but I know I was walking with a lightness of foot. Probably running or skipping quite often too.
It wasn’t long before I saw my two best friends from elementary school. They’re twins. I thought it was curious that they looked just like they had when we were little. For awhile, we all three went down the path together. It was fun.
Then they left and my other best friend from later in elementary school joined me. She was short, just like when we were little and she had a hand full of pens. The pens tantalized me. I asked her if I could have one. We slowed our walk and she held out her hand, the pens glittering in the sunlight that was filtering through the leaves. I picked up one that caught my eye. It sparkled when I turned it over in my hands. After looking at it closely and delighting in it’s beauty, I put it in my pocket. Then my little friend left.
The path I was walking on was pretty smooth and there was no brush in the way, so I could walk without worrying about where I was stepping or where I’d end up.
Then Best Friend T came up beside me. She laughed and smiled at me, so I smiled back. It felt familiar to be with her. Special, but also so, so normal. She was happy and I liked to look at her happiness. It was beautiful.
She was there beside me longer than the others before her. I knew she wanted to be there with me and that was the nicest thing of all.
I saw Best Friend R walking in the woods now too. She was kinda far away, so I waved to her and she waved back.
The path was fine to walk on. I didn’t think about it.
Suddenly though, Best Friends T & R both disappeared. And the path changed too. All at once it had branched out into several different directions.
I stopped, looking at the paths before me with confusion. I stood there for the longest time, debating what to do. There was no one around telling me what to do. I prayed hard to God to help me know what I should do.
One of the paths before me looked well trod. The path was wide. Many people had gone down that path. “It must be safe,” I thought.
I also saw another path that drew me. This one was different. It was not well-traveled, but it went over a hill and that hill was entrancing. There was just something about that hill that drew me toward it. So I went down that path.
In the first few steps down that path, someone joined me again. My kindred spirit, SJ. We linked arms as we went down the path and up the hill. We could read each others thoughts. It was our secret joy. No one else shared a bond like we did. We knew we had a special connection.
When we got to the top of the hill, it was more beautiful that I could have seen from where the paths had diverged. From the top of the hill, that seemed like SO LONG ago when I was deciding which way to go. I could hardly imagine what it had been like to be in that place, not knowing what to do. It didn’t matter though, because I had found my place. And it was on top of the hill. The sunlight was on my face. It was warm. Heavenly.
I decided I would never leave.
But I wasn’t allowed. I had to keep going. Heart-broken, I took one last long look around the top of the hill. I tried to freeze it in my memory so that whenever I wanted to I could come back in my mind.
SJ left me.
The next part of the path was a steep decline down. I didn’t see it coming and I fell, tumbling all the way down until I hit the bottom, brusied and bleeding. I didn’t know what to do. I hurt all over.
It was so lonely, so I tried to remember that at all the other times when someone had left, someone else came. But no one came.
I just keep crawling along the path as it went deeper into a dark ravine. When I finally reached the bottom I didn’t know which way was out. It was just an empty, scary, and very lonely darkness. Such a contrast to being on top of the hill!
There was no crawling anymore. I could just barely pull myself along with my arms.
I was lost and alone.
Dirt and grim was getting all over me. It made me feel worthless. I was still hurting and lost, so I gave up hope. I stopped trying to get the dirt off and just stopped. Not caring about anything, not even getting out of the ravine.
I stopped feeling.
Surprisingly, then Best Friend R was right by my side. She helped me stand up again and talked with me while she patched up my wounds. We began walking and talking together, wondering aloud where the path was going and why. We had lots of questions.
I was really dirty, but as we walked the path sloped up and out of the ravine. Eventually, I began to brush off some of the dirt. My wounds slowly healed too. As hard as I tried though, I could not, for the life of me, get the rest of the dirt off. Even Best Friend R couldn’t get it off.
I was still walking, but in despair, when I finally broke down and cried for the dirt I couldn’t get off. It was at that moment when I realized that my Mom and Dad were right there. They took me under their wing and got more of the dirt off of me.
At long last, I was feeling better. I was happy. Best Friend R and I walked closer, keeping our heads together so we could tell each other all about where we’d been and what the path felt like under our feet as we walked. We would dream of what we wanted the path up ahead to be like.
But sadly, all too soon, it was time for Best Friend R to leave too. Once again, I was alone. So I walked my path, bored and alone. There was nothing else to do, but stare at the path. I stared so hard it hurt my eyes. Sometimes I hated staring, but there was nothing else to do.
So I solemnly trudged on. Staring.
Then I heard a voice.
It was a man’s voice. A young man’s voice. My ears perked up. He was really far away, but as he came closer we talked. In fact, that’s why he came closer, because we were talking. We talked and talked and talked.
I didn’t stare so hard at the path anymore. He brushed away the rest of the dirt and while we talked, he held my hand. That was so nice.
I began to feel again. Feel alive again. Feel like myself again.
We liked talking to each other and I wanted to talk to him all the time, but he said that he had to go back where he’d been when he called to me. I cried as he left and when I turned my head back to the path after watching him go, I was stopped short.
The path was gone.
Completely gone. It wasn’t there at all. Not even the forest was there. I had come to the edge of the path, the edge of the forest, the edge of the world. There was nothing before me, but yet everything before me.
I looked behind me. There was no one there to tell me what I was supposed to do. I thought of all the people that had walked with me on the path and how they were all gone now. There was no one to walk with anymore.
Not knowing what else to do, I pulled my pen and a piece of paper out of my pocket, and wrote down the whole story of my journey on the path. I wrote it down all the way up to the point of where I was… at the edge, at the end… or at the beginning maybe?
It crossed my mind that what I did next didn’t have to look anything like the path I’d been walking. That thought was exciting. I liked the thought of cutting my own, new path into The Everything that lay before me.
But I didn’t know what I would do, so when I finished writing I stopped…
… and put my pen away.