The Choice

When one door opens, another closes. Isn't that how it is? All night I have been running through the house like a madman, swinging open closets and windows that haven't been touched for years, the dust on the sill was that thick. To think that yesterday I was too afraid to go outside.

I am still afraid, but now I spray-paint it in large red letters along the bedroom walls: I AM STILL AFRAID I AM STILL AFRAID I AM STILL and then I reach the door. I unscrew it from its hinges. I carry that thick wooden shield out into the street.

Nighttime in February: memories rise up on currents of cool air and I breathe yesterdays I haven't visited in so long they are like discovering that a long lost friend lived next door, or dreaming of losing the one you love t o wake and find her in your arms. Is that how it is -- the Enlightenment that all the books talk about? The monks want it so much they would give their whole lives to find it. They turn their backs on the world only to discover it again in a grain of sand, or a single petal... but what of their mothers' faces? What of the fathers' hands they left behind? Last night I dreamt you were chasing me down crooked streets and when I woke the bed was empty: white sheets, shadows on the wall.

If I want I can remember a thousand things -- the church, the holly bush, the garden called the Center of the World -- but tonight I want to be here. There are stars out I've never seen, so I climb to the highest point in the city and firmly set the door in place. I must have fallen asleep; it is almost morning, and someone is knocking. Is it you? What if there are many ways back to the world? What if the Center is everywhere, if the dust is nothing, if whoever it is just goes away? Now the sun is rising, and the light calls grass back to life and keeps the trees leaning toward a tomorrow they would never dream to imagine. I am still afraid, you know, but I take a deep breath. I shut my eyes. I let the door fall.


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