By Robin Corak
I am afraid,” the little girl whispered, as she shuddered and backed away.
“But whatever is there to be afraid of?” asked the old woman. The little girl could not see the old woman but could hear her voice as if from far away.
“The dark…I am afraid of the dark”, the little girl replied.
“Why fear the dark, dear one?”
The voice came closer and the little girl could feel something moving toward her. Her heart quickened as she shrunk away, trying desperately in vain to find an escape and clinging to the last bit of light reflected within the room.
The crone asked again and the little girl knew that she would not be denied a response.
With a confidence she did not feel, she raised her voice to the unseen woman.
“Because, I cannot see what is in front of me. It is so still. Things are hidden, and bad things happen in the dark.”
“Ahhhh… but good things happen in the dark. A seed grows underground, unseen, and eventually blossoms into a flower, a tree- full of life. Caterpillars transform into butterflies in the dark stillness of their cocoon. You, yourself, started out in a womb, growing unseen until you were ready to emerge into this life.”
“I suppose. But in the sun I can do so many things! I can pick the roses in our garden. I can run and play in the fields. I can see all of the beautiful things around me.”
“There is beauty in darkness as well. You can lose yourself in the cacophony of night sounds…the deep throated song of the frogs, the questioning hooting of the owls, the restless cries of the coyotes. There are flowers that bloom only at night. You can watch the explosion of stars that shower the sky, creating pictures on an ebony canvas. You can dance under the subtle yet powerful light of the moon. There are magnificent sights to be seen in the darkness, if you know how and where to look. The darkness can be your ally, if you are brave enough to look into the void and find yourself, infinite within the center of the stillness.”
The girl considered this. Gathering up her courage, she stepped forward.
With each step into the center of the darkness, she felt her fear dissipate. Yet the last step was the hardest to take. Just as she started to retreat, she saw the old woman come into the light. With a gentle smile on her face, the old woman held out her hand.
Hesitantly but with great determination, the little girl took her hand and stepped forward.
It wasn’t easy. There were unexpected twists and turns and what sounded like voices of monsters lurking in the shadows. Yet, holding tight to the hand of the old woman, she kept moving forward even though she couldn’t see a thing. She kept moving forward until the ground fell out from underneath her and she felt herself plummeting, down and down, into what felt like an abyss.
At first, she resisted. Kicking and screaming, she tried to find something, anything, to grasp onto to stop her fall. Then she thought perhaps this was just a nightmare and if she pretended it wasn’t happening, it would all go away. That just made her descent accelerate. Finally, she surrendered and gave in to the fall and soon landed softly in a dark room. The monsters she had heard grunting and growling and hissing came closer. Although she could not see the old woman, she heard her gentle, age worn voice explain, “You cannot leave until the darkness dissipates and you face the shadows which plague you. Are you ready to see?”
Trembling, the girl thought for a moment. Either she faced her fears and confronted the creatures that were somewhere in this space, or she would remain in darkness -for who knew how long -as the shadows drew closer and closer and her fear spun out of control. With quiet determination, in a hushed tone she said, “I’m ready.”
She held her breath, terrified of what she would see. Within seconds, the darkness dissipated and the shadows came closer and closer into view and she was astonished to see that she was surrounded by…..
Mirrors. Mirrors of all different shapes and sizes encircled her. She looked into each one and saw the reflection in each shift from her face to the manifested belief of what had haunted her. There was the mirror of loneliness, the mirror of loss, the mirror of “not good enough”. The little girl- who no longer felt so little- began to grasp that her shadows had all been illusions created by her own imagination or crafted for her to embrace by others with her full consent. She searched the ground knowing instinctively that she would find what she was looking for. Picking up the sledgehammer at her feet, she smashed through the room, mirror by mirror, until there was only one mirror left. She looked in this last mirror and saw smiling back at her the beautiful, strong woman that she had become. With a deep breath and a sense of freedom she had never before known, the once scared girl stepped triumphantly through the mirror and back into the light.
And now? She no longer fears the dark, though she is aware of its power and gives it its due respect. She still basks in the light of the sun and enjoys the warmth of its rays.
Yet, with equal fervor and pleasure, she bathes in the silvery light of the moon. She dances amongst fireflies and howls with the wolves. She weaves for herself a mantle of the stars that shine through the pitch black canvas above her and knows that just like the night sky, she is both light and dark, she is beautiful, and she is infinite.