David, breathed in deeply, so deep he thought his lungs would explode, he fell to his knees and wept as the sun shone down on his back and his fingers touched the lush carpeted grass. How long had it been? How long had it been since he had last felt like this? Distant forgotten memories were now eclipsed by the true, rich, vibrant feeling he now inhaled with all of his might, though bubbly cleansing sobs that spoke of relief he thanked God for life again.
David’s decent beneath the surface was ever so gradual, almost imperceptible, he didn’t have much of a choice, the king had commissioned him to work beneath, and so he did. He loved the king and knew that he had been chosen for a special task and so, each day, David went below, to tend to those who were hurting, those who could no longer stand in the sunshine and breath in the fresh breezes that filled the land with life.
David, tired of traveling so far each day, soon moved closer to one of the many entry points to the world below where he was needed. He would clean and tidy, straiten and sweep, and found that he did a lot of good there, fetching fresh water, bringing in fresh produce from time to time. He found himself spending more and more time below, learning the ways of sorrow and hurt, broken dreams and yearning hope. He fell in love with those people, those people that once danced in the meadows just above and splashed in the sparkling waters meandering through.
He threw himself into his work, descending lower and lower with each new challenge, with each new need. It wasn’t long before David lost the desire to bask in the sunshine, and run through the meadows, he rarely even took the long walk to get a breath of fresh air. Soon David decided to just move in, he took everything he treasured and held dear and hewed out of the bedrock a place of his own, a place where he put all of his memories of the life above and yet never have to leave the deep truths of the this dark place that seemed to hold everything together.
David, watched as his most dearest friend breath her last down there, where only memories remained of the life that once was. David loved her so much, he love everything about her, and he loved everything she left behind. Although David’s commission was over, he felt the strong desire to serve in these corridors that had become his home and as the weeks turned into months, and the months turned into years, David found that he just couldn’t stop himself from sitting amongst her things for hours at a time. He would run his hands over the bed rails, he would smell her cloths, he would do everything he could do to feel close to her. Pictures were hanging on every wall of this room that he spent so much time in, reminding him of what it looked like outside and the wonderful feelings that he once experienced. And he knew that if he ever were to venture out there again it would look different, it would feel different, and it would be entirely different than the way he remembered it, and that terrified him, he wanted the outside to look, feel, and taste the same way he remembered it when he left.
So David all but gave up the hope of ever venturing out again, he would often catch pieces of conversation from the outside world, little snippets of news, and some unpalatable propaganda that the underworld he called home didn’t even exist. This made David all the more determined to live there, he despised people who could be part of the world that he once knew and enjoyed and not know about the world that he now felt that he could never leave. To think that life could be so carefree was hard to stomach, and to think that people could just live their entire lives without the slightest inkling of what it takes to live in this place made him despise those people all the more.
David longed to talk to someone about the convictions that he had developed about his life of sorrow, but no one seemed to be able to identify with him in his hurt. Once in a while though, he noticed someone else opening the entry far above him, and bring in fresh water. She too must have been commissioned by the king to serve down here, why else would she leave the world above? She never stayed too long though, and she had this funny habit of leaving the door open just a crack while she spent time with her loved one. She was one of the few from the outside who knew what life was like below, and yet allowed some light from outside to shine in. Few ever made it out of this place, and David felt that if he ever left he would betray those who had become his closest friends.
David started talking to this strange new woman who was one of the few who were willing to come down to where David lived, and see the rooms that he spent so much time in. She was willing to watch and listen as David ran his fingers across certain picture frames, and explained why each memory was so important to him. She understood the feelings that engulfed him as he sat in silence amongst the memories of a world that could no longer be. She touched David’s treasures as if they were her own, she ran her hands across the backs of chairs as she walked through and deeply breathed in the musty scent of bottled life. She told David of her own place, and of the stacks of neatly folded cloths, and pictures that she dusted each day, she too had lost a life and yearned for it back. Though she didn’t share the same determination to live here, to live with what was left and never return to the kingdom above.
David thought her to be shallow to ever want to leave, to ever want to go outside, but began to enjoy her company in a strange way, he thought that maybe, just maybe, if he would ever venture outside again, she could make it look just like he remembered it, just like when he left. He began to think of her in his imaginations of his old life, he pictured her the way he pictured his best friend whom he had lost, but she insisted that when she danced again, when she climbed those mountains high, it would all be different, it wouldn’t be the same. David just couldn’t understand why it would need to be different, why would she want it to be different?, “It has to be the same!” argued David, “if we go out there together I have to know that it’s going to look just the way I remember it!” but she would have no part in this fantasy, she pulled back from him and left, up through the long corridors, hearing her steps fade into the distance David wept as he thought of everything that Viola was not. He wondered about her too, did she really learn the lesson of this dark place or was she some short timer who was going to forget what she owed to the places filled with tears, pain, and loss?
Several days later, Viola convinced David to come up from the lower regions and to let his eyes adjust to the light she let in through the crack in the door way. After much discussion David trusted and came up to allow his eyes adjust to the whisper of light she let in, for the first time David caught a glimpse of her, she was stunning, like a crushed flower wanting so desperately to bloom again. She, kept talking about looking for work at the palace, her commission was over and she didn’t have to work here anymore. David didn’t understand how she could go work at the palace, he couldn’t believe she would have the desire to leave when all that she cared about seemed to be in the same dark place that he called home. Viola insisted that her time here was short, she knew that one day she would no longer need to sweep, tidy, straiten and fetch fresh water, she was almost excited about going out there and never coming down for long visits again.
David walked out there with her one day, and felt the fresh breeze but wasn’t sure if it was right, everything he loved and cherished was beneath him, and she wanted him to forget that? How absurd! he walked right back into that hole and slammed the door behind him, ready to go back to work straitening pictures that didn’t move, folding cloths that weren’t worn, tidying up for guests that weren’t going to come, but his eyes had adjusted to the light and he tripped, he walked further downward and fell, he bumped into things and just couldn’t find his bearings, he was so frustrated, everything was neatly in place when he left and now he was making a mess of everything, everywhere there were things knocked over or spilled, he slipped and found himself on the floor just wishing he hadn’t been so stupid to walk out there with her and believe he could experience what he had before he came here. He was still holding in his hand a flower that Viola had given him outside, he tossed it into the corner and cursed at himself for joining her in her fantasy.
FINE! David thought in a prideful sort of way, ‘HE’ at least had a firm grasp on reality, ‘HE’ could survive down here, ‘HE’ could live here and ‘HE’ would be just fine. He prided himself in being able to exist in this place and thought everyone on the outside (save a chosen few) were all caught up in themselves, ignoring the dark realities that held the universe together. They wanted to float on clouds, get stoned on dreams that wouldn’t last a second beneath the surface that they took for granted, at least ‘HE’ knew of these forgotten truths that fastened the world together with iron cords between happiness and sorrow.
Viola didn’t stop coming to David’s world though, she paged through some of David’s writings and felt like she could never embrace such, conviction and determination to stay here. David despised all things that couldn’t exist below the surface, all trite anecdotes, all philosophies, all theologies everything that couldn’t withstand 10 seconds below the surface. He reveled in the fact that his views gained strength down here, his views carried momentum here, but Viola challenged him to think what he might have done, had he created a world, had he been living within a system that couldn’t survive OUTSIDE of this dark place? could all his dearest ideals withstand the light of the sun? This challenged him, it even scared him to think that in all his time below the surface, he may have been hiding from the sun, hiding from the light of day and developing a venomous distaste for all things bright and new. He was frightened to realize that he may have developed such a distaste and distrust for anything that offered happiness that he might be doomed to spend the rest of his days in this dark, musty hole that had become his home ever so slowly.
Why couldn’t he have died down here, why did he have to face the light again, why, why couldn’t he have been taken captive, imprisoned against his will, why was the door left open for him to venture out, he liked this dark place, he liked everything and every reason that brought him to this point. He was commissioned by the king to go here, he was here for a reason, he thought he had been given this gift to exist beneath the surface and the thought of going out and leaving everything terrified him, he thought it would be a compromise, he thought he was being unfaithful, was he buying into that flaky, weak, philosophy that the king just wants everyone to be happy? The thought that the king’s son suffered and died just to make people happy made him want to vomit, but could it be beyond the king to delight in happiness? After all, David would have never sunk so low if it weren’t for the highest of highs he experience in the lush valleys of life, where the sun shone, and fresh breezes filled the air.
Somewhere along the way, Viola stripped David of his ability to embrace his life as he was living it. She forced him to abandon his acidic distaste for all things that could bring color into his world. And now he found himself torn between two worlds that had been separated so completely for so long. Viola longed to dance in the meadows, she knew it would be different, but she was excited about the adventure, yes she would risk returning here but she thought it would be worth it. Voila left David in silence with these thoughts and shut the door on her way out, David, thinking he had to get everything back to the way it was couldn’t even see, Viola had always kept the door cracked open and now that it was shut his eyes couldn’t get used to the complete darkness, and the silence was deafening, it was terrifying, David cried out in panic, VIOLA, COME BACK! DON’T LEAVE ME HERE! I WANT TO DREAM! I WANT TO LIVE AGAIN! I WANT TO LOVE AGAIN!
David dropped the picture of his once perfect life, and as it shattered on the floor he raced upwards, up toward the door Viola had always hoped he’d come through, with more energy and excitement than he’d felt in years. Beyond that door was life, beyond that door was happiness, beyond that door was something different, something new, and something exciting. He had never been able to see it that way until now, he had never been able to let go of everything he wanted back and embrace the uncertainty of a new world that could potentially be just as wonderful as the one he left, tears rolled down his cheeks as he burst through the door and ran into the meadow to find her. And when he did, he breathed in deeply, so deep he thought his lungs would explode, he fell to his knees and wept as the sun shone down on his back and his fingers touched the lush carpeted grass. How long had it been? How long had it been since he had last felt like this? Distant forgotten memories were now eclipsed by the true, rich, vibrant feeling he now inhaled with all of his might, though bubbly cleansing sobs that spoke of relief, he thanked God for life again.