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we are Learning to make Fire

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The footprints in the snow suddenly end. Taken aback, I turn around. No way in hell am I journeying out into the unknown with no guidance.

The wind is getting sharper, stronger. Its poignance stings my nose. Why has someone not invented some type of nose-muff yet? The night is dark and stormy, symbolic of the life I’ve been living. I struggle to carry myself back, squinting for the footsteps that were quickly fading.

This is pointless. I know it is. All of it. There’s simply no f*ing way I should be doing this right now. I shouldn’t be in the middle of nowhere during this never-ending snowstorm, searching the ground for which way to go, all alone. Why the hell is no one helping me? How long will this blizzard last? How long will I last?

Why did the footprints end?

Lacking in everything and extremely hopeless, I have nothing left. I cry out. For help, for death, for anything, really. I am tired. I am suffering. I am tired of suffering. I miss everything. I miss my family. I miss warm nights by the fire and presents on Christmas morning. I miss childhood and innocence.

I miss him.

The footprints are completely gone now. I am completely lost. I sink to the ground, wishing desperately for sleep until it finally sweeps over me.

I awake to the same scene. Cold, hungry, miserable. Angry. Sad. Frustrated. Confused. Lonely.

Giving up.

I spend several days like this. Giving up. I drift in and out of consciousness, ignoring the numbing pain in my stomach and limbs and heart. I am set on not ever getting up again.

Someone approaches me. Even from a distance, it looks like an ordinary stranger. But I picture him. I picture him walking towards me and offering me his hand and pulling me up to my feet.

“I thought I’d find you here,” he says. “You’re not giving up are you?”

“What’s the point?” I say to him. “There is no point. I see no sun. I am in this labyrinth. And I see no sun.”

“That doesn’t mean there isn’t one.”

“It does to me!” my voice rises. “I am all alone in this godforsaken forest. Everyone is gone! Everyone I love. Everything I’ve ever known. I am alone and I am stuck and I hurt like hell. I am sick of fighting this.”

“So you’re giving up.”

I nod mutely.

“Well, that’s a shame. The sun is beautiful.” He looks at me sympathetically. And then he’s gone.

I look around wildly, confused. I scream for him to come back. I shout until my voice aches and my shouts become pleas. “Please, help me.” Sinking back down to the grown, my pleas turn to sobs. I ache for the company of the man again.

He never comes.

It is strange, but even though he never comes, I can feel him here. And his words stay with me. I wonder if what he says is true. And then I wonder if it even matters if it is true.

Who gives a f*** if there’s a sun when there’s no way to reach it?

I decide, oddly enough, that I do. I want to feel the sun again. To feel warmth and comfort. I do not know which way it is, so I just begin to walk. It takes a lot. Each step is so achingly difficult. But I take it just like that, each, singular, step.

Right.

Left.

Right.

Left.

It is hard. Each step is hard. And I never know if the direction I’m going is the right one. Whether I am closer to the sun or not. I just keep going. And somewhere along the way I get used to it. The steps never become easier, but I get used to the difficulty.

I keep picturing the sun.

I do not know how long it takes. But at some point the storm calms. The forest clears. I feel heat.

And I see the sun.

I also see the man. He smiles and waves me over, asking me why it took so long to get here. “I didn’t know the way,” I respond back.

“No one does. But as long as you’re going forward, directions doesn’t matter. You choose the way yourself.”

“Was there a shorter way?”

“Maybe for a different person. But not for you. You needed that storm and everything that came with it to get here.”

“Will I ever have to go back?”

“Maybe, but it’s much easier to find the sun when you know it exists. Do you like it?”

“It is quite beautiful,” I say. And I mean it. It makes my skin burn and my blood rush. I have never felt so alive. He smiles at me and nods.

“I have one more question. Why does everyone have to do that? And why does it have to be so lonely?”

“It doesn’t have to be lonely; people just often isolate themselves. As for the other part, it is quite simple:

‘where painfully and with wonder

at having survived even

this far

we are learning to make fire’.”



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