But of course, there was an end. She could pretend the pit wasn’t there, that she wasn’t trapped in a cage. She laughed and studied and looked like a real person, but she wasn’t. A part of her was always in the dark, in the deep.
This wasn’t random, this couldn’t be random. There had to be meaning, purpose, to this suffering. If there was a purpose, then that purpose could be achieved, and then it could end. She could walk away with her prize.
The only ones who could see it left her, not strong enough to see her through to healing through no fault of their own. Those who were left had the best of intentions, and patched her with comforting lies, because they could not see the truth. And eventually, neither could she.
It was a thin fog – not the stifling midnight of depression, but a watery veil that subtly distorted everything. Even today, she does not know where that veil came from. Surely, no one forced it on her. But without the iron belief that her pain meant something, the veil appeared
She lived. She loved. And she built herself a home on the edge of the precipice. It never quite let her go, because she never quite learned its lesson.
She learned things – little truths, little magics – and they accumulated day by day, like pebbles on the shore. She learned to dive deeply into the essence of the world, and through dream and trance and ritual she met some of those who lived there.
When she slipped into that abyss again (as she always would, from time to time), she saw their faces full of an inhuman love, and so sad. Sadder than any mortal could comprehend. And she knew that it was because of her despair that they felt that pain, and that more than anything drew her back to the surface…. but she always fell again. Eventually.
She knew they were waiting for her to comprehend, but she didn’t know what. Or how to speed that process along, which she longed to do with all her soul.
Finally, she couldn’t take it any more. She walked out, into the rain, and planted her feet in the river. She raised her hands to the sky, and called out to them.
“What is it I am meant to learn? I am here! I am ready! I can’t stand the waiting any longer!”
And an answering voice replied, from deep within, “Only this: you are loved.”
And she replied, “Seriously? That’s it? Because you could have said that fucking years ago. In fact, you have said that! Lots of times!”
“Yes, but you weren’t ready to hear it.” And it flowed into her: the ecstasy of spirit journeys and the quiet of a cup of tea; the sweet exhilaration of catching a chipmunk unawares and the reflection of watching the water flow past; every moment that she had been truly alive and aware flowed into her at once, and she understand what had only been words moments ago. And finally, after so many years, it was enough.