A spiraling tower stood before me; reaching all the way to the sky. A dirt pathway wound its way around the column up to the very top. A vast angry sea surged around the base of the pillar. The misty sea-spray lingered in the damp earthy air. Hundreds of people lined the spiral trail; each one wearing a white linen robe and carrying a warm glowing candle.
The view from below was ethereal and even though the sea was raging below, the silence was deafening. Each candle flickered wildly against the gusty breeze of the violent sea. I watched from afar as the lit candles slowly began to burn out. Everyone walked in a trance-like state, never seeming to notice that their candles were starting to extinguish.
One by one, I watched the little lights become snuffed out. Ringlets of smoke billowed up from the tips of the blackened wicks and yet nobody seemed to notice what was happening. Still they continued to walk up the dusty trail. Each one unemotional and seemingly lifeless. I began to feel afraid for the ones whose lights had gone out. I watched intensely as each person began to make their way to the top of the tower. I hadn’t noticed it before, but those without a lit candle upon reaching the top of the pillar, were immediately cast off into the abyssal depths of the sea by an invisible force.
I realized in that moment that I had to guard my own light as if my life depended on it. I began walking up the pathway myself. All of us were walking inline, one after the other, making our way up to the top. Everyone faced forward and walked in their catatonic-like states; giving little regard to the little white candles in which they were carrying. And yet I was determined to make sure that my light didn’t go out.
I did everything I could to block the draft that was coming off the gusty sea. I cupped my hand around the soft flickering light; the warmth of the flame gave me hope and I walked on. I was determined to make it to the top with my lit candle and I knew I could do it if I just tried hard enough.
I finally made it to the top with my flame still intact. The tower was level at the top and covered by a recessed area that led to a cave. As I looked over the edge of the cliff, I saw thousands of people at the bottom of the pillar. Each one was desperately trying to rid themselves of the icy waters which engulfed them. Their nails scraped at the sides of column. Leaving gouges in the clay soil foundation. The sides of the pillar were smooth and steep though, and made it impossible for anyone to climb out. I realized that I had not seen a single person make it to the top with a lit candle except for myself.
Then I noticed her, one person in particular; she was slowly drowning in the murky waters below. The woman was very beautiful, with fair unblemished skin and long wavy brown hair. Her eyes were closed as she fought to climb out and she looked exhausted from her futile attempts to save herself. Many others crowded around her, each just as unsuccessful as she was.
I watched in horror as each one tried to claw their way to freedom; but instead, each continued to suffer relentlessly. Every person drowned a million times over and yet they never actually died. It seemed they were fated to suffer like this for eternity, and the sadness I felt in that moment left me feeling more pain than I had ever felt before in my entire life.
I felt miserable that I had not been able to save even a single one, and yet somehow I had managed to keep my own light shining, and thus saved myself. The intense loss was heavy on my heart and my grief was more than I could bear. I sank to my knees feeling defeated and hopeless. There was nothing else that I could do.
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