I walked along; my footprints fell and sang as they fell. A steady beat making a sound at once familiar and alien. Same feet, new shoes.
I thought I was good only if all the world lit up when I walked in; if my light penetrated the darkness, chased it away. I never wanted to see the dark, like a raven’s shadow following me.
I thought my life was a miracle because of the light I shed. Because of the brightness around me when I spoke and didn’t know where the words came from.
Then I tripped in my new shoes, fell on an unfamiliar path. The shoes were still tight, the path not yet clear. My steady stepping got caught on a sound that I thought came from the woods, until I realized it was my own voice crying—no, whimpering, then shouting in anger.
The voice tripped me up. I was stepping along just fine before that. The next thing I knew, there was no light. No words came. And I knew for true and certain I had no brightness.
I grew angry. I yelled at the darkness, forgetting that it was the light that went out, that left me. The darkness had always been there. The raven smiled, but I couldn’t see it.
Then I felt the pain in my feet that spread up my legs and back, into my shoulders and neck and throat and made my head feel like somebody went berserk with a corkscrew in there. I wasn’t about to relinquish my anger now.
Mama always said: “No sense crying over spilt milk.” She never said anything about spilt light.
I tried to walk some, but what with the pain and feeling so miserable and not being able to see anything, I just didn’t have the gumption to go too far. I felt the raven ruffle her feathers.
By now I could make out shadows and shapes of things in the dark. I even became a little fascinated by my own body, as I looked down and saw dark limbs hanging limply against the darkness of myself.
I watched as smallish lumps of black became stones, nestled safely against a tree trunk. Then I looked up and noticed how the trees guarded the path with outstretched arms like dark mothers holding back the piercing openness of sky.
The raven smiled again. This time, I saw the outline of her dark beak against the paler line of dark tree.
Then, for the first time in just about ever, I saw that the night was not simply black, but a thousand shades of dark. That’s when I realized the pain was gone.
I stood up. My shoes felt fine. I knew that the darkness was a miracle, and loyal as hellCit would always be there. And I could see in the dark, if I let my eyes adjust. I could even be good in the dark.
Just then the sun began to rise. I was actually disappointed. I was starting to feel safe there in the dark. As the raven spread her wings, I smiled. I knew she would be back.