There was once a little boy. He was curious, alive and full of hope, as, indeed, most of us are at the beginning of our journey. An unseen, benevolent hand had created this boy in the sweet blissful safety of a realm, filled with love, beauty, and adventure. Then, by some unknown reason, he had been dropped in another, different world, the one in which he was destined to start his life. This world was also a fascinating place, and as beautiful as the one the boy had come from. However, in times long forgotten, something had happened to this world and now a sense of looming danger often hung in the air, even on the most sunlit days. Darkness lurked in places where once there had been only sunshine and joy. Joy, however, still abounded in that world and, just like the beauty, always made itself known to those who sought it.
The boy, naturally, knew nothing of darkness, having come from such a glorious realm. As a baby, he lay in his crib, watching the colours of the light change on the wall above him. In a way beyond reason, he loved the flickering of the sun rays and the song of the little bird which always perched on their roof. Every day, as he lay there, looking at the wall, something extraordinary happened. A sense of love filled his young soul, as if something precious and eternal was calling to him from a faraway land. As the boy listened, he heard sounds of sea-waves, cries of pre-historic animals and birds, and some mysterious laughter which, though unknown, sounded oddly familiar. Lying in his crib day after day, he saw and heard many things. The sounds, the feelings, the smells, came to him, bypassing sense in the human way.
Although they came as a revelation from another world, they urged him to open his heart toward the world he was already in, as if his world – crib, parents and all, was somehow connected to that other one, or even, was the other one, or rather, was becoming it, shaped by the same unseen hand, which…but the baby did not think about all that, of course. Babies do not think, they trust. And, naturally, the little boy trusted his heart, which brought him closer to that wonderful world every day. He somehow knew that, if his heart was connected to such wild, glorious beauty, all must be well with him. He belongs to some story, bigger than his own. He is valued. He is good. And, every night, he slept peacefully. His dreams were filled with the sweet music of a world which, though ancient and forgotten, was not at all lost.
Of course, as is the case with all babies, our boy`s parents did not think much of his perceptual abilities. After all, he was a baby and babies, as we know, cannot think or perceive the world the way older humans do. But the parents knew nothing of the realm their boy had come from and the magical hand that had created him. His heart, the center of his vast inner universe, was active, sensitive, and very much alive. More alive than their own, in fact. Although he lacked the capacity to remember, or be conscious of himself, in his heart he knew a lot. He felt a lot.
And that was the problem.
* * *
The new world failed to meet the boy`s inner expectations. He was, after all, from another world. And although he did not experience any harm at the hands of his parents who, indeed, loved him and did their best to provide for him, something shifted in the heart which once overflowed with anticipation and joy. As he was growing up, the visits from the other world gradually became less frequent. Eventually they started coming only after nightfall and soon, only in his dreams. Although limited to a few hours of restless, uneasy sleep, they kept coming night after night, with a surprising tenacity. As if there was someone out there, maybe the mysterious wizard himself, who relentlessly pursued the boy. With every dream, came a whisper from that secret realm, memories of which still lived deep in the boy`s heart. Using every opportune moment, the wizard tried as hard as he could to reach him.
Sadly, such moments became more and more seldom as the years rolled by.
The hopes, the dreams, the longing for more, slowly died within the boy who was now a man. Although he was very successful in the new world, his heart withered within him. It missed the old realm, the magic and mystery of its true home, and, not being allowed to think of it, it lay imprisoned in a dark dungeon. The subtle, often unspoken messages which came from his parents and his peers, as well as life`s tragedies, had done their job. He was now a respectable man, a lawyer with a wife and a five-year old son. He was, in fact, happy, at least most of the time. But lying in his bed in the wee hours of the morning, the feelings and emotions that arose within him, told a very different story. In such moments, a dark cloud hung over him, blotting out the light, smothering all goodness and joy in his life. These were the times when old monsters stirred. Imprisoned long ago in the basement of his soul, they crawled out, emboldened by the darkness. Drenched in sweat, the boy, now a man, stared at the ceiling, waiting for the darkness to pass.
On one such night, he woke up with a start and looked around. The warm, delicate body of his wife next to him rhythmically rose and fell with her breathing. Looking at the woman he loved, he felt something, a stir which, although hardly perceptible, seemed to dispel the gloom in his soul for a moment. As if some unseen, but alive and almost recognisable mystery urged him to look closely at the all that was around, and within him. There is more, the faint feeling seemed to be saying. There is more.
But the boy, now a man, could not bear to hear such distant, floating promises any longer. He needed clarity. He needed help. And as hard as he tried, he could not see why he was so lost. Turning his eyes away from his wife, he looked through the window, peering at the darkness outside.
The darkness peered back at him. It spoke.
Its message was clearer than that faint sense, possibly a trace of some pleasant but old memory, which he had felt just moments earlier. Black, evil words were uttered. The darkness knew him, maybe more than he knew himself. He feared it. He could no longer run from what he thought was the truth about him.
He hated himself, deep within his lonely, broken heart.
* * *
As most of us know, feelings which cannot be explained at the present are often rooted in the past, and this was also true for our friend, the boy who was now a man. Ever since his father left home, back when he was six, a dark veil hung over the boy`s life. Although decades had passed since, he never forgot the first night after his dad`s departure.
The sudden chill, the deafening silence in the living room, the heartbreaking sobs coming from his mother`s bedroom, the weight of so many unanswered questions…it was all too much for the little boy. Bewildered, having nowhere and nobody to go to, the boy crawled up into the attic. Sitting alone in the dark, he cried, and for the first time in his life, nobody came to comfort him. Weeping over the loss of the man he loved most in his life, he felt abandoned and alone.
But up there in the darkness, he was not alone.
An unseen, powerful being hid in the shadows, lying in wait for the young, unprotected boy. It whispered poisonous lies to the child who, knowing nothing of the realm of darkness, believed them. The tears rolling down his face in the cold, gloomy room, soon turned into rivers of hot, bitter acid, scorching a trail across his heart. It was his fault that his father left, he said to himself, over and over again. The pain of the loss and the sudden, fierce hatred, was too much for the young boy. As he believed the lies, whispered to him in the darkness, he killed and buried his own heart. His innocent, wonderful heart.
In vain did the wizard sent dream after dream, calling after his lost son. The door through which they once came was now barred.
The man who had once been a boy pulled himself up from the bed, trying not to awake his sleeping wife. Five minutes later, he stood in the bedroom, dressed in his best suit. He softly kissed the warm forehead of the woman who shared his life and left the room. His son moaned in his sleep as the lips of his father touched the skin of his face. He did not startle, the man remarked inwardly as pangs of sudden sorrow shot through his heart. He did not know what to do with sorrow when it came. He had long lost his ability to express strong emotions, ever since than night in the attic, when he cried for a last time in his life. From that time on, he buried everything – his anger, the fear and that fierce hatred which boiled inside him. It had worked pretty well all these years – everyone loved the nice guy that he was, including his wife…
With silent steps, he left the room. He had no time to waste.
The car shot down the empty coastline road, heading toward a dirt path which was only for pedestrians. Ignoring the signs, it roared onto the track, speeding toward the edge of the cliff. As the car left the solid ground, the man behind the wheel, now a boy again, began to cry. The car hit the stormy ocean with a crash and plunged into the dark, cold depths.
The little boy stood alone in the kitchen. His mother lay unconscious on the floor. She had fainted after receiving a call from the police, confirming that her husband was dead. Standing nearby, her son heard everything. Shocked, bewildered, the boy tried to wake his mother up but to no avail. Utterly alone, under a burden too great for him, he wanted to cry, shout or scream, but no sound escaped his lips. In a half-conscious daze, he put his slippers on and wandered up the stairs. Opening the door of the attic, he slipped into the cold, gloomy room and sat on the floor. The sobs shook his small body as the warm tears ran down his face.
But up there in the darkness, he was not alone.