I am convinced that the pit I had fallen into was designed specifically for me. I’ll never forget the first time I dared to look up, and realized how far down I truly was. That moment, I wished more than anything that I could say I hadn’t seen it…that I had blindly and innocently fallen in. But I couldn’t say that. Not honestly, anyway. I couldn’t say it because I had crawled in there myself.
It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the world beyond the pit. I loved the luscious green grass and flowing streams that gurgled above my head. But when I heard the first voices from the mysterious hole in the ground, I couldn’t resist. “Hey you. Yeah, you. The beautiful one. Do you know why you don’t see anyone as lovely as you around you? It’s because they are all in here. Here is where you want to be. We love you and we need you. Even here, among the best of the best, you will be queen. Please?...” On and on the voices beckoned me near, until peering over the edge, and seeing nothing, I swung a leg over and began to slide down, my belly against the cold hard rock.
The walls were slick, from years of friction, and they were covered with moss and slime. My arms were outstretched fruitlessly above me, grabbing, scratching, as I slid further with each passing second. In an instant, a rope smacked me in the face, and I grabbed a hold. I hung, suspended in darkness. My hands grasped tightly to the rope of my salvation while my feet dangled in darkness.
I looked up to see how far I had fallen. The sunlit opening above was like a large gold saucer, which poured in sunlight, blinding me when I looked directly upward, but allowing me to see the slick, dirty walls of the pit clearly. A figure bent over the hole and called for me to hold on tightly. As I readied my grip and began to look upward, a soft hand gently rubbed my shoulder. Startled, I turned to see who the hand belonged to. It was no longer there, but a sweet, soothing voice from the emptiness began to speak. “You poor thing. You look scared to death. Don’t you know that all you have to do is let go of the rope? No harm awaits you. The bottom of this cavern is filled with nothing but comfort and luxury. It won’t even hurt when you hit the ground. Trust me. I’ve been there. It’s like falling into a bed of clouds. Just let go.”
I called for my rescuer to wait. I shouted, "Lower me down a little further!" Nothing. No response, no movement. I was alarmed when I felt myself slowly being pulled upward. I shouted again, “No! Not up! Down! Just for a few minutes!”
The figure above called to me, “Tell me when!” I could see him shaking his head. But even as he did so, he released some slack, and I began to sink further and further into the darkness. Soon, amid the darkness, the walls became full of colorful illusions that danced beneath layers of translucent rock. I was mesmerized. I became thirsty, and before I could even express my thirst, I saw a thermos on the ledge in front of me. I quickly unscrewed the top and took a swig. I sputtered and choked on what tasted like curdled milk. Now I was thirstier than ever! I continued to descend.
Looking up, the opening was now the size of a small gold coin, and the man with the rope appeared as merely a speck of sand. The geological light show continued, and as I stared more intently into the glowing stones, I began to see my own reflection. As I stared, my own appearance began to change. The moment I saw the monster’s face in place of my own was the same moment I began to smell the decaying stench of death. I cried out, “Up! Now! Please pull me up!” No movement.
It occurred to me for the first time, what a strain all this exploring must be putting on my rescuer. By then, I had descended so deeply that the light above was barely visible, and I couldn’t even see them one who so faithfully held the rope. Who was I to demand being pulled up? He should have let me go hours ago. Or would it be days ago? How long had I been down there? How long had he been struggling to hold onto me?
For a moment, I readied myself to drop, dreading the mere thought of asking him to go through the trouble and strain of pulling me all the way up. But the smell got worse, the lights faded, and the screams began. I was not alone in this dark, wet, place, but somehow the sounds and smells of those who dwelled there, did not keep me company. They only branded me with an even greater sense of loneliness.
I gathered my strength. Would I be so bold as to cry out to the hands of the one who had sustained me this far? “Please! I’m sorry! I really don’t want to go down any more! Please pull me up!” With that, I began to ascend. It seemed to take forever. The closer I got to the top, the brighter the light became and the more vivid the appearance of my hero. When I got close enough to see his face, I saw a smile on his lips and tears in his eyes. “Thank-you!” I cried. “I'm sorry. Thank-you so much!”
As he hauled me out, onto the grass with two sturdy hands, he plopped down beside me and held me in his arms. His voice was soothing and calm, overcome by emotion, but lacking the slightest hint of blame or resentment. “I almost thought I had lost you.”
When I pulled away, and looked upon him, I saw that he was covered with black tar and green slime and smelled of the stuff from the pit. He had not been in there, had he? I realized then that it had come from me. I was a mess. Covered with filth from head to toe. When he embraced me, it had all rubbed off on him.
“Thank-you for holding on so long,” I whimpered. “But, why didn’t you just pull me up earlier?”
“I was waiting for you to say when.”
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