6: The Grace that Follows

Remembering what the sage had said to her high upon the mountain in the freezing snow in the midst of a mental break down in the land of the dead, she found herself in a euphoric state, no longer dreading the pain in her hands or the freezing cold diminishing her body and morality all at once. Instead she just wanted to know what was next. As of now she realized that there was nothing left. Everything, neigh, anything that had ever mattered in her life was null. Now all she had were memories and an eternal journey, or so it would seem. Climbing on she couldn’t see any end in sight for this climb. But she could still see him, standing over her in the dark white blur of the snow storm, standing to face her defying what would be gravity, only to utter the one phrase that would keep her going. She wept indeed, for she had some how found purpose here. The first thought of a reason for being she had become aware of in this place yet.

The wind from the storm weaved out a symphony of a brilliant orchestra in her head. Back she went, finding herself back in life. It was dark out and she could smell the alcohol on her own breath. She was drunk and depressed. Standing alone she remembered she was cold and wet. It was raining now, the only light came from a street light not to far away. Lost in sorrows and emotions she couldn’t face, she walked on. Wandering down a lonely street, yelling and screaming out for hope, for something, anything. Passing a church she remembered cursing god and all creation. “Was this some big joke? Does my pain and suffering make for a great play for you lord? Do you even exist?”. She could remember herself thinking about the idea of some tormenting god who only existed to make her miserable. She still blamed herself for what had happened to him. Sobbing and soaked she wandered into a grocery store. Wandering from isle to isle she thought- knew she was alone. Going down the frozen foods isle she burst into tears. A stock boy from down the isle approached her. “Whatever it is it’s nothing a little ice cream couldn’t fix!” the stock boy whispered to her, grabbing a container of cookies ‘n cream ice cream out of the freezer and handing it to her. She remembered how she couldn’t help but smile at the simple act of compassion of a stranger.

Her tears froze to her cheek as she climbed on pushing through the storm. No matter what happened she knew she could do this. She had been through worse, more than once. Faster she went, one hand over the other, almost eager to reach the top. Forgetting all the pain around her, she could only think about finding whatever lied ahead. What would she find? Was it peace? Answers? What? Closing her eyes she could almost see him again and she felt happy, at peace with what had happened. And for the first time in her existence she realized that she was glad he was still alive, regardless if it meant he hated her or not. Only that he had lived and hadn’t been forced to face this horrific place she found herself in now. She realized how selfish her pity really was in life. Now, there was only her, the mountain, and her memories. She had hurt him, that was an eternal truth. But now, she could find peace for herself. Finally she could forgive herself for what she had done to him.

Up and up she went. Did she even care if she ever made it to the top? For the first time she could face a mistake she had made and accept it. Eons went by and yet she climbed. Dwelling on the mountain she had climbed in her own being, she disregarded the one she faced here and now. After some time, she could almost see light emerging far far above her, through the ice and snow and blinding wind.

She had made it! No matter what happened next, she had finally made it to the peak of this place. Climbing on and on she could see it now, a far off place in her site where the infinite blackness of the cliff and the blinding snow storm were parted by the light. She could see a dark figure looming over the edge. Heresy. He was waiting for her, She smiled, thinking of his little speech at the edge of the lake. No matter what he said, it was obvious he cared about her. Even if only for the company. However superficial it may have seemed, she realized that he was the first man she had ever known that lied about caring about her and really believed his lies. He wasn’t trying to impress her, he was just happy she was there. Or was it the other way around? Up she climbed. Closer and closer came the light.