Darkness. Eyes turned inward into shadow. Fingers reach into the damp cold searching in vain for something to grasp. The slow and stoic heartbeat surrounds, but brings no comfort. Grief is all encompassing, filling the space with unbreathable air. Toxic fumes as I choke on tears and nothing, for you are not here. Legs shake and yield as I crumple to the icy ungiving ground. Head thrown back in one last defiant act before surrender. Surrender to the darkness. I lie for an indistinguishable amount of time.
A faint light barely breaks through above. Growing light in the shape of a great hand, slowly moving down. As I watch I am entranced by soft inaudible whispers. It surrounds and gently lifts me, placing me on feeble feet. It covers me with a warm white cloak of light and in my hand it places a lantern. Intricate metal leaves and vines hug a pale light. With it I see a winding stair in front of me, moving up and out of sight. Suddenly, I know what it was the whispers had said.
It is time.
Time to step. Time to trust and to move forward. The lantern chases the constant chill from my hands. I breathe in new air deeply and it smells of flowers and life, reminding me in warm waves of past springs. I place my foot hesitantly on the step and I feel the hand working in tandem with my latent muscles as I raise the weight of my body, of the cloak, and of the lantern.