Where am I?

Hard to say. Where would you like to be?

I'm not sure.

I see. Then we are at a standstill.

Who are you?

Who would you like me to be?

I don't understand you. Why must you be so cryptic?

Why must you ask so many questions?

Forgive me. I'm lost.

Yes. I suspect many who come here are.

But where is here?

That is entirely up to you.


Yes. Just take a step.

It's dark. I'm afraid.

I know. It will be alright.

How do you know? 

I just do. 

I don’t think I’m ready. 

I understand. It’s okay. There is time enough. 

Perhaps I will stand here a while. 

Very well. 

What is that sound? It frightens me. 

That is the sound of silence. 

It hurts. 

You will get used to it. 

I can't imagine that I will. 

You will. 

I wasn’t always here. 


Where was I before? 

I’m not sure. 

Can I go back? 

That depends entirely on what you do next. Perhaps. 

I think I would like to. 

Are you still there? 


There were others. Before. 

Yes. I think that you are right. 

Who am I? 

You are you. 

Please. Your answers are meaningless. Impossible to grasp. 

Perhaps you don’t need to grasp them quite yet. 

There you go again. If you’re so all-knowing, help me. 

I know, I’m terrible. But I can't help you. I can only listen. 


Is it this dark everywhere? 

Why don’t you find out? 

I am...afraid. That everything will slip away. 

I think you have to try anyway. 

Do you think I can be that brave?

I do. 

I am taking a step. 


Where are you? 

I am here. 

Will you stay with me? 

For as long as you need me. 

That will have to be enough. 

There is something. I can feel it. But I cannot touch it. 

It is the sound of your own footsteps. And mine. 

I like it. But why must it be so dark? I wish to see you. 

Even if there was light you could not see me. 


But there is! I can see something. 

It’s not light exactly. 

But there is a face. 


He is looking at me. Who is he? 

That depends. 

His smile is worn, crinkled. But he looks happy. 

Do you know him?

I think, perhaps, I did. But when?

I suppose you knew him Before. 

Yes, yes. You may be right, friend. 

But how? Why does he not speak to me? 

His eyes look right at me, and his lips move. 

But all I hear is the sound of my voice in my head. 

But you are quiet. Do my musings bore you?

Not at all. I'm merely thinking. 

Perhaps... but no, it is foolish. 


Maybe this man was me. A long time ago. 

Ah! What makes you say that?

I feel as though his bare shoulders are my own, brittle and sagging. I can feel the skin around his eyes crinkle when he smiles. And there is something else.

What is that? 

Something deeper. I… I have seen the things this man has seen. Walked in his worn-out shoes. 

Tell me. 

Thin rays of yellow rose each morning above the horizon, turning the wheat fields to gold. 

A woman with a bitter face. 

A man with tired eyes. 

A spotted farm dog with a limp. 

A bed made of straw. 

A boy who skinned his knee. 

An aspen tree with scarlet leaves. 

Plowing endless rows of black soil. 


Blazing sun. 

A boy who is no longer a boy. 

A woman with rosy cheeks who lets her white-blonde hair cascade down her back, and who does not care what people think of her. 

Keep going. 

A silver ring. Church bells. 

A house in the town. 

Paintings of thunderstorms and the bronze clock on the mantel.  

A swollen belly. 

A baby’s cries. 

 A little girl with red hair, and brown eyes that are full of laughter. My daughter. 

Good. Tell me more. 

An ebony cat who came with a storm. 

A cramped office with a cloudy window. 

A broken promise. A ring returned. 

A woman with blonde hair who gave her heart to another. 


I’m sorry. 

I am too. 

What else?

My headstrong girl. A graduation cap set atop a nest of fiery hair. 

A woman with sweaty hands and a nervous smile who asks for my blessing to take her away. 

The hurt of letting go. 

Two white dresses. 

The silver ring. 

A kiss. 

An absence. 

A visit. 

Her dancing brown eyes. 


Slowing down. 

Brittle bones. 

Thin glasses. 


Empty house. 

Clock ticking. 

One day. 

A stab of pain in my chest.


Bright lights. 

Blurred shapes. 

White coats. 

Crisp sheets. 

Dull pain.

A thin white hand on a withered one. 

Voices like paper birds in the air. 



And your voice. 

I see. 

I remember. 


I had a life. A family. Many homes. 


I had love, and peace, and sorrow, and fear. 

Yes, yes. You had all these things. 

But did it matter? Did my time matter at all? Perhaps, friend, my feet left no mark on the earth I walked. Maybe my words touched no hearts. 

Perhaps not.  

Say it isn’t so. Please. 

These people that you spoke of. Your child, your wife, your mother, your father. 


They made you, and you made them. Your stories tangle. 

They loved me. 

They did. 

But was it enough? All I see is darkness. I came so far. I was a boy. A man. A husband. A father. And yet I'm here in this place of mirrors and memories. 


Is this it? Is this where I shall remain? Wandering the sooty blackness listening to echoes? 

If that is what you want. 

No. Why must you be so cruel? I do not want to stay here. Please. 

Do you remember what I told you?

You have told me a great many things. 

What happens next is up to you. 

So I need not stay here?

Not if you choose.

What is beyond?

I do not know. 

I'm still afraid. 

Yes. You were afraid before, remember? But I am still here. And where might you be had you not taken that step into the darkness?

Will you come with me?

You must go alone. But I will always be there. Perhaps you will not know it, but I will.

I suppose I must be ready then. 


Look! There is light! 

Oh, my friend. I can see. How beautiful the light is. The air tastes of music and my heart is full of stars. 

See! The willows do not weep and the pines stand so tall and strong as though to reach the lilac clouds. The weight of old bones is lifted.

There are souls here like me, their bright faces somehow old and young at the same time. Dancing. They are dancing! 


Oh, I know you must be there still, even as I join hands with these happy people. 

Thank you. 

February 19, 2023 01:41

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Thom With An H
19:02 Aug 17, 2023

It is appropriate I found this story in August. It was like a gift from the past. You should write more. I'll read. As for this story, it was so unique and so well done. You made me feel if I was on the journey as well. You revealed so much with so few words. Really fine work.


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Jacky Burke
02:20 Mar 02, 2023

Wow - I really liked this! That the silence hurt, the vague but wise comfort of the other voice, that you told so much of a person's life in so few words. This was great right from the beginning.


August Jett
14:46 Mar 04, 2023

Thank you so much for the read! I really appreciate it <3


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