Seeing in the Dark

Light draped over the cave like a curtain, cutting off my view.

“Come on.” Sarah’s voice floated back through the dark.

Blindly I groped, using my hands to find my first steps, all the while waiting and wishing my eyes would adjust. My shoes slipped on wet stones, struggling to find purchase among all the odd angles. In the distance I could hear the soft patter of water, dripping down.

“Where are you?”

“Up ahead,” she called back, the only sound she gave me.

The air grew cold, a faint stirring that left me longing for the warmth of the sun. I could turn back, but then I’d never know.

The walls fell away, forcing me to return to all fours, scrambling over, around, and in between the cold shapes that littered the ground. I could only imagine what this place would look like in the light of day.

When my hands first found water I hardly noticed. Every nook sheltered at least a little. But then I reached again, and almost fell in. Even the ground was falling away. How deep was this pool? Impossible to tell. I could swim, but the chill was more than I could bear.

“Look up.” Her voice was right beside me now.

I swallowed my questions and lifted my head. Light? Or was it just a trick? I wiped my eyes, but the light held firm, neither sputtering nor sparking, content to hover on the edge of both.

“No,” she laughed, “look up.”

Her hands guided me to my feet, steadying me until I found my footing. The further I looked, the more I saw. Dozens of them, floating, though in water or air, I could not say. They drifted, blurring together, then slipping apart, as if challenging me to try and count them.

Sarah’s hand found my own, forcing my fingers to make room for hers. Staring, silently, how long I could not say. I only know that I felt her tug, and followed her back, wordless as she led me out, into the sun.

I didn’t ask, and she never spoke, but we both knew. Walking back, we both knew.

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