Why bother getting up? I can just lay here forever, the ground is cool, yes it is hard but it is not uncomfortable. Get up, it’s what the other voices here say, it is what they do, they go about their activities, leaving little trails of light where their feet touch the ground. Those that pass me tell me to get up. I do not, I lay here, beneath the chains, I could easily slip out from beneath them and move on but why when the darkness keeps me here. I can see the light from where I lay, two large windows, that bring images to this dim world of ours, but I do not approach. The light does not bother me in my rest, it cannot reach where I lay.
I used to remember when I got here, when these chains were draped around my neck for the first time. The others had given them to me, they all said that they were too heavy for them and that I was strong enough to carry them. Then I used to take them off and go about my day like the others, but now I just lay here beneath their weight. The chains feel heavier than they did then, but the chains have not been altered. New chains have not been added to my shoulders, instead the new chains lay across the ends of the old along the ground, neither binding me or holding me down. Yet I do not strain against them, I do not try to flee.
“What are you doing?” A voice asks, I do not answer.
“Why don’t you do something?” Another asks, I turn my face away.
“You should just go to the windows, and see the world, it will make you happy,” Another says, I would laugh if I but had the energy to do so.
Instead I yawn and lay my head against my pillow of chains and stare up at the darkness above me. It is so black and empty, nothing to cause me harm, nothing to cause me worry, just darkness, cold and welcoming.
The lights at the windows go out and the other voices cry in anguish, filling my darkness with their pain. Why must they be so afraid of the dark, it is nice here, it could be quiet if they but silence their voices for a moment. If they would be quiet I could sleep, but they do not quiet, they call to each other through the darkness. Complaining about another wasted day, about more wasted time, calling from one end of the darkness to the other about how hard it was to be them. They did not wear the chains, yet they complained of their hardships, I tried to block them out, but they kept me up, just as they did every night.
Get up, they would call when the lights came back on the next morning, and get up they would. Each of them walking by me as I lay here, staring up at the darkness overhead. Praying for it to fall upon us all and silence them forever. Then I could sleep, then maybe I would have the strength to push off these chains for one more day.
I steal a glance over at the windows, the day outside is bright and welcoming, but the warmth does not reach me here. Many of those that walk around me rush to the windows to see the view beyond, cheering and exclaiming of the beauty of the day. They call to me, for me to come and see, to enjoy the light as they do, but I do not rise. I roll over and turn my back on the light to stare into the darkness once again.
“When the darkness comes forever, it will be your fault,” A voice whispers to me as it passes.
“The lack of light here is your fault,” Another says to me.
“Your sorrow brings the darkness,” Another snaps.
“This prison is your making.”
“How is it my fault?” I demand, “I did not bring the darkness, nor did I bring these chains.” I replied, “You all gave me these, you are the ones who keep me here in the darkness, and out of the light, you are those that have bound me here.” I retort.
“We have not bound you,” One replies.
“Our burdens were too much for us to bear so we gave them to you, you are the strongest of us, yet you have let the chains weigh you down as they once did each of us.” Another says.
“I am not strong enough,” I call to them. The light from the windows fade and go out, once more and the voices cry again into the darkness. Tonight I cannot take it, I cover my ears and scream for them to be quiet. I pray for the darkness, I pray for the end. It would set me free of these chains.
A gray glow comes from where the light usually shines through the windows. There is never a glow at this time of night, I sit up, the chains around me scratching along the dark floor. What is that beyond the window, I have never seen that place before, there was something odd and terrifying about it. I must see it better, the thought had never crossed my mind before, to go to the windows, but I knew now that I needed to get closer. I pushed my hands against the cold ground, the chains screeched in protest as I slowly rose to my feet. I stumbled along, the chains dragging stridently along the ground as I stepped. I heard the voices in the dim light beyond, whimpering in fear, crying for forgiveness, searching for hope. I reached the windows and looked out.
Beyond was the host, the being that gave us our world, her hands were stretched out before her, and beyond her reach was a great chasm. Below was rushing water, turbulent and dark, the cold air of the night blew through the windows and struck me. She was going to go to the darkness below.
“No!” I cried, “No you cannot,” I wailed. “The darkness is not for you,” I called to the host; I knew she could hear me. “You have too much to live for,” I pleaded. “I will carry your burdens, just don’t take the light from us,” I wept.
“I thought you were not strong enough?” A voice behind me asked. I turned to see a voice I had not seen before. She stood in a blaze of light; in her hands was the longest chain I had seen in my life. The chain glowed as coals in a fire, warm yet dangerous.
“I am strong enough for this,” I replied, I knelt before her.
“This is life; it is heavy and will weigh you down,” She said, her voice kind and soft.
“I am strong enough,” I repeated, she laid the glowing chain across my shoulders and vanished. I glanced back out the windows; the host stepped back from the edge and turned away from the abyss beyond.
The next day I stood at the windows, watching the world outside. This was my purpose, to carry the burdens of those around me. I lightened their hearts so that they could continue to live in their light. One day the darkness would come, but we would all be ready for it then. I was a prisoner of my own making not of others; I am strong enough to carry on with this life. I am their light and their darkness. I am their hope.