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Slave To Sorrow
It was the most beautiful place I had ever seen. Deep in the side of the ominous mountain face, my secret grotto lay hidden by the salty ocean tides. My house sat atop a hill, just a five minute walk from the coast. Every day since I was six, the secret grotto was my favorite hangout spot.
It was a secret for a reason; I was the only one who knew about it. The air was thick with moisture today, and chilly. I hadn’t seen the sun for as long as I could remember. It wasn’t that there was no sun; there just wasn’t any light in my world. Winter was on its way into town, and I would soon not be able to visit my grotto until the spring. The entrance was underwater; to enter, I had to swim down about eight meters and into the small opening in the rock face. After what seemed like an over-seasoned eternity in the frigid waters, I broke the surface into wonderland.
Coral stretched across the slimy walls and almost every surface of the grotto. Tide pools were alive with wildlife. Little fish of every color and size flickered playfully through the water; crabs no bigger than my big toe skittered indifferently across the floor. Years ago I brought some old wooden boxes in and made myself a little throne up on the incline toward the back. My faithful paper crown still hung from the tallest spire; the spire reaching only my shoulder, now.
With a boyish grin, I carefully plucked the sodden paper form from its resting place and placed it upon my head. Plopping down in the throne, I observed my dominion for what seemed like the thousandth time. Every thing was exactly as I had left it. I never had any friends in my life. Making friends was hard, it took effort. This cave and the creatures that lived in it accepted me for who I was; they didn’t need any explanations or extra information. On the nights when my father beat me bloody for failing in school, the cave was my only form of shelter, of comfort. I was alone in the world. With tears of sorrow brimming in my bloodshot eyes, I bit my lip and laid my head back against the crate.
As my usual ritual, it wasn’t long before I slipped into the dark reaches of sleep.
I awoke with a start. There was a fierce grinding noise resonating through the walls. The small creatures were nowhere to be found; they were no doubt hiding. The beautiful coral began to crack and plummet to the floor. I had no idea what was going on. The rumbling continued to get louder until it was near unbearable.
“No!” I screamed fruitlessly. The cave was beginning to collapse. I couldn’t leave this place; it was everything I had. There was no use in trying to escape, simply because there was nothing to escape to.
Then I remembered what a wise person once told me. “Life is too short to wake up with regrets. Remember that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance take it, if it changes your life, then let it. No one said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.”
The wise person was my mother. Despite everything that happened to her in life, she still managed to face the next day with a smile. No matter how tired she was, she would always take an extra minute to make sure I knew she loved me. She was my role model in life, and unfortunately I fell short. What would she say to me if she was here right now?
She would probably tell me to get up out of this cave and go find something new.
But how could I do such a thing? This was all I knew, all I was comfortable with. Finding something else… “No one said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.”
With fresh inspiration I shot up and swam out of the crumbling cave. I watched it fall to pieces behind me. When I arrived at the shore, I realized I was still wearing the crown. Pulling it off my head, I looked at it for a long moment. All these years I wore it thinking it was a symbol of my rule. As it turns out, it actually symbolized everything insignificant in the grand scheme of life ruling me. With that, I tossed the thing into the water, watching it sink below the murk and eventually disappear. That chapter of my life was gone. It was time to heed my mother’s words and start again. Looking up at the sky then, I saw a shaft of light break through the gray. A real, genuine smile spread on my dreary face as I began to stroll back toward my home.