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I knew that the Ivy Gate marked the edge of the universe with the same certainty that I knew that the sun would rise the next morning, repeating on into infinity. I knew this because, as I stood in the shelter of its archway, and as I stretched myself into what lay beyond it, I felt myself fade away into oblivion.
Such a small world after all.
My conviction about the nature of the Ivy Gate had been deeply engrained into my psyche, instinctually so, despite the fact that I rarely visited it, and had never dared to step beyond the sanctuary of its boundary (for I had not yet been driven to the depths of despair that I wished to lose myself in the cosmos, or lack thereof). I am not sure when this notion of the Ivy Gate first entered my mind, but perhaps the better question to ask would be if there was ever a time that I did not believe this to be so.
I think not.
For a majority of the early years of my life, I kept this little jewel of knowledge clutched close to my heart, not daring to share it with those who might not be worthy of such a secret—or rather, those whom I did not want to trouble with its mind-altering revelation.
In that sense it was quite kind of me.
However, there was a day in my childhood when my uncultured lips perchance to let loose the delicate flower of my belief about the Ivy Gate within earshot of my caretaker, who found the notion rather intriguing (and for a moment, in my naivety, I believed that I had perhaps found a kindred soul). But then she proceeded to add to my revelation about the Ivy Gate: that, if it were the edge of the universe, that perhaps the ivy that grew upon it held the secrets of the world, invisibly etched upon the three pronged leaves—which, of course, was absolutely absurd.
But she was always an odd lady, and moreover she was fired within her second year of work.
Who was she to believe she knew anything about the way the world worked?
Likewise, there was a day scattered somewhere around my twelfth birthday where my sister and I were amusing ourselves by playing hopscotch (or rather I was amusing her by participating in the trivial ritual) and by some accident or another, the rock she had chosen to throw skittered its way across the threshold of the Ivy Gate. And the rock managed to maintain its physical composure, despite having been hurled through the edge of the cosmos. This incident so disturbed me that I spent several days pondering what implications it could possibly hold. And for a while I entertained the notion that perhaps the rock that my sister had so casually tossed was in fact an incarnation of the divine.
A truly ridiculous conclusion, I later came to realize, for a rock is simply a rock, and therefore has nothing to lose by falling past the edge of the universe.
The majority of my teenage years were consumed by the presence of the Ivy Gate, though it was not intrigue that captivated my thoughts, but rather an overt sense of disgust that I had steadily accumulated over the years. Revolted, by the time I had spent hopelessly staring at the Ivy Gate, the edge of the universe, without the ability to communicate such a deeply disturbing revelation. I alone, the only soul in the world who had been bestowed with this knowledge, was thus cursed to be alone tormented by it. I, the fallen Eve, yet without an Adam to commiserate with me.
And so life continued, and the Ivy Gate remained. A gaping hole, a mocking mouth embedded in a noose of thick grey stone, as inconsequential as the pebble that had fallen from my sister’s hand, yet somehow so steadfast that it seemed as though not even the weight of eternity could crack it.
But today I walked through the Ivy Gate.
And down the worn cobble stone road beyond.
And on to the rest of my life.