Crumpled notes are pressed daily beneath the iron door to my cell. Notes of promise, words that slice through my burning heart. Let me in, my love.
Love? What a foreign, frightening word. I cannot help but think that words like "love" are too distant to ever reach to the depths of one like me.
But still the notes come.
On one particular day, I strain too hard against my chains. The chapped skin on my wrists begin to bleed again, and I fall back against the cobblestones, weeping. I have fallen so far.
Another note slides beneath the cell door and falls open. Let me in, my love.
My voice is broken and small, but I croak out two words that draw every ounce of strength in me: "Come in."
With a mighty groan, the door that has separated me from every part of the world swings open and then breaks in half. Trembling, I wait for the wrath of the one who has broken into my cell with such power and triumph. But his gaze only holds love.
A broken sound falls from his lips as he eyes my chains, my wounds, the frailness of my hungry body. He reaches out scarred hands to caress my aching arms, and with his touch, the shackles split in two and fall to the ground. "Come with me," he says and takes my hand to help me to my feet.
I totter under the weight of the chains I keep clasped tightly around me. They no longer bind me, but I hold them still, unwilling to fully release all I have known for so long. As I stumble through the doorway and into the blinding light of the outside world, I cannot believe my eyes. Gentle waves lap against a shore cloaked in sand as white as a wedding gown. Sunlight filters through the leaves of the trees hanging above me. Beauty, such beauty that I have forgotten while staring at the gray stones of my cell.
We walk down the beach together, hand in hand, but my chains quickly become too heavy to carry. My arms tremble beneath their weight. I falter and fall hard onto my knees, breaking into sobs at my failure. How can I ever truly fall in love? How can I enjoy the beauty displayed all around me? All I know is captivity. Even after liberation, my thoughts whisper to me my worst fear: that I can only ever be a prisoner.
My deliverer kneels beside me. "I love you," he says, but I struggle to comprehend his gentle words. Sure, he loves me. He broke me out of my prison cell. He loves me, but he cannot know my heart. If he did, he would see a pit as filthy and as cold as the damp cell where I have spent my life. And if he ever saw me as I truly am, he would drag me back where I belonged.
I am afraid. I am in awe. My heart pounds with new stirrings of love. Trembling, I allow each shackle to fall from my arms and thud to the ground. They lay coiled at my feet like a snake trampled into the dust.
"Come with me," my deliverer murmurs. "You have been set free. There is no need to cling to chains from your past. In my love, there is only freedom."
Smiling shyly, I reach to take the outstretched hand. We walk together, deliverer and one who has been set free, lovers, friends.
I am loved.
Three years ago: Poverty: The Ripped Bible
Two years ago: I wish I was a computer nerd.
One year ago: All About Color