Of Oceans and Stars
By Amelia Brown
Once upon a time a man stood at the edge of the ocean. A look of wonder played on his face, for he had journeyed far to witness the sight, and encountered many obstacles that would have barred him from it.
It had begun when he had heard tell of a body of water that swept out to meet all the stars that had ever been. It had been said that to see it was to see infinity proved endless. Though the man had long struggled to act bravely, having denied himself all adventure in the name of fear, when the words fell from the lips of more than one passing traveler, a charge lit through him. It was as though a tremor had set within him; a task from God.
Thus, he had gone forth without trepidation, his goal fixed firmly in his mind.
But a week into his journey, he was set upon by ravens who plucked at his clothes and his shoes leaving his body scarred and covered in nothing more than rags. In the second week creeping thieves took advantage of his sleep and stole all his small wealth that lay in the contents of his purse. Still worse, after many days had passed, a hag stopped his way and cursed his feet with boils so that each step he took felt of piercing agony.
How he persisted, and indeed why, the man did not know. But to put one step in front of the other had become more patterned habit than anything. At the very least, he had the beating of his own heart to keep him company.
But even that waned after a time. For the fact came upon him suddenly that he knew himself to be so very alone it was as though even if he came upon a million people, he would never be able to find himself anything other than lonely. And that was when his heart began to fail. The beat slowed, becoming ever fainter, until he could feel almost nothing within his chest.
His head hung low with the weight of misery and despair. He would take one step more, and go no further.
And in that step, he crested a hill.
There they were: the stars hung like bright drops of suspended dew. There was the water, swelling into infinity.
Suddenly the pain had passed, the burden no more, the awe all the covering, wealth, and balm he had ever needed. It had been well worth the journey.