"Moving in the Dark" (c)2013
I woke up in a dark room. I knew I was inside a room because I could hear doors opening and closing. I knew that this was not representative of my entire life because I had memories of being outside of this room, of living my life before this room. Why was I in this room? And how did I get here? I did not know. I just had a sense of certainty that I could trust my memories. And early on, I decided to hold on to these recollections.
This room had no light. I remained inside this room for what felt to be a very long time. Without gadgets or tools to tell me what day it was, or how much time had passed, I was clueless as to how long the sentence had been and would continue to be.
I did know one thing: I wanted out of this dark room!
With my powers of deduction, I made observations:
1. This room was large! No matter how far I traveled by foot I couldn’t reach a wall, and yet I heard doors open and close. Doors that must have been connected to walls. But where were these walls?
2. I could hear people walking by. I could feel others as I bumped into them, and as they bumped into me. Eventually, voices began to sound familiar. So, I asked my neighbors, Do you know where we are? How do we get out? How long have you, yourselves, been here? And they replied, “I don’t know”, to all of my questions. They were as lost as me.
3. In this room, our basic needs for food and water were suspended. Or at least, mines were. I didn’t feel the deprivation of physical nourishment. I didn’t feel a satisfaction either. But I didn’t feel the physical hunger or thirst. This was a relief considering I had a bigger need on my hands: to go beyond.
4. After wandering for a long time, I decided to rest. Just be still. Instead of listening to the captives, I would try my best to pay attention to the outgoers. We couldn’t all be prisoners. There are people leaving through doors. It must have been hope that interpreted the outgoers to hold success stories.
I got back up, and took a couple of steps forward, back, left to right all the while throwing my arms up above me. I was trying to grab a possible instrument that outgoers were using to leave this room. Perhaps, there was a bar or rail that they clung to and followed. But there was nothing. So, I thought creatively, and hunched down to the ground. Maybe there was a clue on the floor? I found a bundle of braided thread. It was a rope! But was this the instrument outgoers were using? And instead would this rope lead me to my own demise? There was only one way to find out.
This was the plan: I would follow this rope trusting it would lead me to freedom. To a way out. To out of here.
It’s so funny. When I was wandering aimlessly, even bumping into others, there was not much said to me. In fact, I would have to initiate conversations just to be engaged. Not many of the bystanders were interested in their own circumstances let alone mine —- while I was wandering. After I grabbed the rope, I became a magnet. Many voices in the dark asked me what I was trying to do. I knew they were speaking to me because they called me by name. Meanwhile, I was surprised that my actions were noticeable. Keep in mind, this was a dark room. How can anyone determine what I was doing when nothing was apparent? I didn’t announce that I was using a rope, but I wasn’t stingy with the information either. When others inquired, I told them that I was using a rope to leave this room. Pretty simple. I imagine that in a well lit room, my plan was very rational. But not to my peers in the dark room. Instead, I was told how silly it was for me to believe that the rope led anywhere. I was told to believe in the randomness of darkness. Some of my peers tried to convince me that life was better inside this dark room. I was told that I didn’t have what it takes because I failed to find a way out sooner. My efforts were dismissed, and my failures highlighted.
And yet, now was the time to hold on to that rope. I had tried every other conceivable way to accomplish my goal. And without the help of others, I followed my instinct. I held onto the rope, pulled myself along the line, and followed it. I knew this route was a gamble. There was a possibility that the rope was knotted, and I’d walk into a circle. There was also a possibility that the rope ended within the room, and thus leading me nowhere. But there was also a possibility that this was the tool that outgoers were using. There was that possibility I would make it out using this instrument!
The biggest tests of faith were after I traveled miles forward, following the rope. I attracted larger crowds whispering for me to let go, and to turn back. My guess is that some of these lifers did not want other bystanders to know there was a rope in this room. I had to resist internalizing the discouragement. I had to resist giving more weight to their dismal speculation than to my own speculation of success. If both were speculations, why did their opinions deserve more clout?
By the end of my travel, following the rope, I kept my eyes closed. It was useless trying to use them in the darkness. And Lord knows how much damage I’d probably already done trying to use my sight in this light-less room.
Guided by the rope, my instinct told me I was moving forward. The rope eventually led me to a wall. I know this because I bumped into it. Reaching in front of me, the rope was strung into the wall. I felt the wall, and found a knob, and doorway. This was a door! A closed door. I turned the knob, and the door opened into another room absent of light.
I figured, I traveled this far. I might as well see what’s in the next room. I closed the door behind me in case there was trouble in this next room.
I moved my hands along the wall of the new room. I found a switch, and turned on the light.
The door and rope disappeared.
~ Short Story from Ruby's Daydreams