8. Death’s Monolith

Clarity again. Upon the cobblestone paths that crawl up croissant hills in the northern borders of France, a place where he begs you to go, you walk to the sun. Each building upon the street is brightly colored in every shade of prismatic excellence, and the doors have been flung open by nameless inhabitants. The air smells like a memory that your ancestors may have once possessed but you have never known it in your life. It is a smell of baking bread, flowers, and dust. You march up the steep hillside street to a familiar place, an unassuming bookstore at the top. The trim of the building is a dark wood, and it matches the venue’s name sign that you cannot read. The runes of your mind are never scrutinized.

Inside, the shelves are narrow and high, exquisite and fresh, unlike the living second-hand bookstores you are accustomed to. An heir of elegance sweeps through the cleanly storefront, and yet it is devoid of the corporate feeling of Barnes of Noble. It is what you wish every bookstore could be; pristine, comforting, and filled to the brim with fine literature. You feel as though shadows are occupying the space, as it feels crowded and empty at the same time. You wonder if you are glimpsing into a real place, in a different time and space. You drag a finger across the many bindings as you walk, the pad of your finger delicately thumping every piece of breathing fiction. Your heartstrings are rebuilt, growing slightly stronger with each absorption of text. As you swell with happiness, your steps detach ever slowly from the ground, until you float up.

Floating does not seem unnatural. You simply feel separated from an essential limitation in your waking life. When you float upward, you test the new physics,  pushing your chest forward to move that way, or taking a big gulp of air to go higher or breathing out deeply to go back down. You cling to the bookshelves to easily propel yourself places, and it feels much like swimming; pushing off walls of the pool to swim faster. You feel accomplished and free, as though your skin and bones were shed and your fleshy prison doors were opened.

That is all stolen away with a single blink. Your setting has changed abruptly, making your stomach drop into despair. You’re on your knees upon a cold surface that feels much like concrete. Strong winds whip you back and forth, and you struggle to keep yourself steady. Your eyes lift from the ground and you see that the platform you rest upon is only a few feet in width and length. An indiscernible landscape surrounds you on every side, but it is much too obscure to be understood. Hues of grey and light brown paint the scape, and that is all you can know. Even the wind seems to be monotonous in color.

Without looking to your right, you feel the presence of someone standing over you. It lures your senses to be drawn to it, but you feel afraid to look. It does not speak, but you can hear a white noise emanating from its direction. With a wincing gaze, you look up into the extraterrestrial, but it is the face of him. He is dressed like the devil, or cloaked like Death, and his eyes are sunken valleys that many fear to tread. He is as handsome as he always was, but he stares down at you and strikes fear into your damaged heart. He does not open his mouth to speak, and yet you hear his voice.

Look. His deep voice tells you to look beyond the small refuge that you find yourself trapped upon. Height, your singular irrational fear. You weakly crawl on your hands and aching knees to the edge of the platform, and quickly you realize just how far up you are. Miles and miles separate you from the safety of earth’s gravity, and the same distress you felt about the looming figure was now doubled. You scoot back from the edge to safety, although now knowing you are trapped upon the monolith, your mouth dries and your breathing spikes.

You will only conquer your fear if you jump.

This mantra makes sense to you in the moments his silken voice instructs you to take the plunge. Your heart, as attracted to chaos as it is, empathizes with the man who would have you fling yourself from the ledge. Quickly you come to your senses with the realization that your fears would never allow your self-destruction. Your lack of courage would be your savior in this moment.

“No, I will not jump.”

But you must. Would you spend eternity here?

Eternity terrifies you, and how long would it take for your heart to give out? Could you live, clingy to a few feet of rock, praying for salvation? Would madness drive you to fall to your death?

Death, Him, the man you once loved, shows you a glimpse of eternity. Minutes and hours flood your mind’s eyes with slippery ease, revealing the pain of living in fear. He only divulges a few moments of the vision, but it was enough to make you face your circumstance. You know you must get off the stone tower, but must death be your destination?

You crawl again to the edge, hoping to see a way to scale the side. The fear flares in your heart and stomach, begging you to return to the safety of the center of the pillar. You resist the urge to be sick, and calculate how to survive this situation.




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