The Next Step

by Jessi Deere

Sometimes it gets so dark here at night that the blackness presses up against my skin like a body full of lust and either I hold it close and tight against my chest or I struggle against it like an ant caught in honey. It’s the type of darkness that can make you forget there’s a world out there. There’s no gravity pulling you into the earth and there’s no air filling up your lungs. Just for a second, there’s only you.

The point is, when I’m in that darkness, there’s no forward or back, no east or west or any of that. You take a step and you don’t know what you’re heading toward. It could be the edge of a cliff, the mouth of a lake, or safety. But you take the step anyway, because, well, you can’t stand there forever, can you?

So you take the step, and you hope not to fall. And in that moment, for just a few reverberating heartbeats, time gets so long and stretched and slow that it takes a raindrop fifty days just to fall from the sky and meet the earth. You’ve dropped to your knees and you’re crystal-ball-gazing into the interminable dark. To you, oh Lord, I offer my prayer. In you, my God, I trust. You wonder how many lives and civilisations have passed by, all whilst you’ve knelt subservient on the floor.

And then, all of a sudden, the moment is gone and time speeds up so fast that a mossy-shelled snail seems to slide over the ground like a leopard. Your chest is expanding with balloons of breath and your blood is rolling through your veins.

You’re alive and laughing and hot like the sun.

You take a deep breath and get ready for the next step.

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