It was dark and cold. She sat at the bottom of a deep pit. How she got there, she didn’t know. She just knew she didn’t like it and wanted out.
She stared straight up at the faint speck of light she saw. She knew there was life up there – bright, warm life – because she vaguely remembered that she had once lived there and she wanted desperately to get back to that life, but how? She had tried calling for help until her voice went hoarse then eventually silent. But even if her voice had reached the top, no one had responded.
Maybe there were tunnels that would lead her out. She felt all around in the darkness but the walls surrounding her were solid.
Maybe there was a rope or something that she could use to pull herself up. No, she would have felt it when she was feeling the walls.
If she was going to get out of this pit, she would have to climb one of the walls. Although all the walls were made from dirt, she had noticed that they were also different from each other. One wall was quite bumpy with different size bumps sticking out in random places. Another wall was very smooth, almost slick, but seemed to have something like branches sticking out at different intervals. The holes on the third wall resembled the craters on the moon, with each hole varying in size and depth. And the last wall was plain dirt with no other feature that she could feel. Each of the first three walls appeared to be hard packed dirt but the dirt on the fourth wall was softer and looser. From time to time some of the dirt, knocked loose by a vibration or something, would drift down to her.
The wall with the branches seemed to be the best choice. Surely she could pull herself up branch by branch. She had always prided herself on her arm strength. She stood up and grabbed the first branch. Then standing on her toes, she managed to reach a slightly higher branch. Letting go of the first branch, she hung there not quite sure how to reach the next branch. She remembered some movies she had seen where people climbing mountains had swung on their ropes to reach one ledge after another. She didn’t have a rope, and she would have to swing using just one arm. Could she do it? She eyed the next branch she thought she’d be able to reach and began swinging. Back and forth in ever increasing arcs until she got close enough to grab it. Success! She tightened her grip on that branch and let go of the lower one. She chose her next branch and began swinging. She got this one too. And so slowly, branch by branch she got closer to the light at the top. Crack! The branch she was hanging from broke and she began falling. She tried desperately to snag a branch on her way down but was unsuccessful. She hit the bottom hard and lay there unmoving for what felt like hours. Or maybe days. Eventually she tried moving different body parts. Although everything was very sore, she didn’t think anything was broken. After a few more days, when she felt better, she tried climbing again choosing different branches. She got about halfway up before her grip on a branch slipped and she fell. This time her head hit the bottom and everything went black.
When she awoke later, her head was throbbing. At first she couldn’t remember what had happened. But as she lay there, it slowly came back to her – both her attempts at climbing the wall, and the falls. Not wanting to repeat them, she decided not to try the branch wall again.
She considered the other walls. Which should she try next? Maybe the one with the holes. With her feet in the holes helping to support her as she pulled herself up, she wouldn’t need to rely on just her upper body strength. She walked over to the wall and checked the holes. The ones she was able to feel seemed deep enough to put half her foot into – plenty big enough for what she wanted to do.
At first it was easy, and she quickly went from hole to hole. But as she got higher, the holes got further apart and she had to stretch to her limit to reach them. When she got near the top, using the light that made its way in, she couldn’t find any more holes within her reach. She looked down to retrace her steps so she could attempt a different path but the darkness prevented her from seeing her previous holes. Her muscles began to tremble as they became fatigued. She knew if she didn’t move soon, she would fall. But there was no way up, and no way down. Frustrated, she screamed and let her body fall.
When she awoke later, she could barely move. Every muscle hurt. There was no way she could attempt climbing again until she healed. So she curled up on the damp floor and cried. Eventually she fell asleep and dreamed of the freedom she would find if she ever managed to climb out of her pit.
There was no way to measure time so she didn’t know how long she had slept, but her muscles weren’t as sore when she woke. She stretched carefully and regarded the last two walls. One with bumps and one flat. The one with the bumps looked more promising. Like with the holes, she could use her feet to help stabilize and support her weight, and there were more bumps on this wall than holes on the other wall. As she climbed, she developed a rhythm. Reach, step, reach step. Again, at first it was easy. But as she neared the top, the bumps began to flatten slightly making them harder to grab and to step on. Sweating now, muscles beginning to tremble from exertion, she strained to reach the last few bumps. Just as she thought she had it, her sweaty hand slipped causing her to lose her balance. Scrambling frantically to grab hold of something, she managed to regain her grip only to lose it a moment later. She cried out as she fell, and hit the bottom hard, this time landing on her back. The breath knocked out of her, she lay there not moving, despair filling her. Maybe it would be better to quit trying. All it has gotten her was more pain. But then she looked up at the faint light above her. There was freedom up there. There was life up there. If only she could reach it.
She turned her gaze to the last wall. The least appealing of the four. No hand holds. Nothing to grip. Just smooth, soft packed dirt.
How in the world would she get up that one? Or maybe she should try one of the other ones again? She shook her head, remembering the falls she had taken.
When she was able, she crawled over to the fourth wall and felt as much of it as she could. No hidden crevices, nothing sticking out anywhere. As she touched it, some of the dirt came loose and fell down by her. That dirt was way too loose even if there was something to grip. Wait… too loose? Could she dig her way out? If she could dig out the holes herself, she wouldn’t need to worry that she would run out of them when she got near the top, or that they would be too far apart. She tried scratching at the dirt with her fingers and the dirt easily fell away until she had a good size hole. She stood up and dug out another hole. Then another and another until she had five holes staggering up the wall, each one about a foot higher than the last. She carefully stepped into the bottom hole and eased herself up, her hands gripping the higher holes. The dirt held, so she tried putting her other foot into the next hole and again easing her weight up. But this hole crumbled at her weight and she slid back down to the ground. She wondered why the first hole had been strong enough but the second had not. Using her hands she studied the difference between the two and realized the second hole was not as deep into the wall as the first had been. She moved a few feet over and began digging again, this time making sure the holes matched that first one. As she climbed, she thought she could make it as long as she kept it slow and made sure the holes were consistent. But halfway up, she slipped and slid back down the wall. She tried a third time, then a fourth time. No success. She managed to get to varying heights, but each time, she ended up slipping back down. Eventually the wall wouldn’t hold any more holes and she was forced to give up.
Sitting back down in the center of her prison, she despaired. She knew there was life up there but there was no way she could reach it. This deep, dark pit was determined to keep her there no matter what she tried. Ok, fine. If that was the way it would be, then so be it. She accepted her fate, curled up on the floor, and waited to die.
However a part of her, a tiny piece of her from deep down, would not give up. So from time to time, she would call up weakly for help just on the chance that someone would be passing by at just that moment, hear her, and find a way to get her out. But she didn’t have much hope that it would work.
Then suddenly, she felt something wrap gently around her and start to pull her upwards. She looked up and was blinded by the brightness of the light that was so much closer to her already. Within minutes, she was out of that pit and standing on the soft green grass next to it. The light was so bright, the air so fresh, she couldn’t help dancing and shouting in delight. All around her people were doing the same thing. It was a glorious place, everything she had imagined and more. She turned to look for who or what had rescued her and saw a man standing nearby, a huge smile on his face as he watched her dance. She knew without asking that this was her rescuer. Crying out her thanks, she ran to him and was embraced by strong warm arms. As she let his love fill her, she knew she would never leave this amazing man. In his arms, she was safe, loved… and free!