It seems a long time to me, but it’s only been three years. When you’re thirteen, an hour seems like an eternity. The future stretches away into infinity, and sixty years seems such a long time.
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There was a time, three years ago, when I’d lie awake on my bedroom floor, my eyes closed, and my hands by my sides. My face would be turned up, toward the ceiling. I wouldn’t move. I wouldn’t think. All I did was breathe, and hear, and feel.
In, out, Inhale, exhale. Slowly and steadily. The soft harmony that combines with the rhythm of life; the heartbeat.
I would feel the air, soft and silky, cool against my skin. It would caress my face like a ghostly lover and run light fingers down the bare skin on my arms. I would feel the carpet under the palms of my hands. And beneath that, I would feel the earth beneath my floor. Ancient, steady, solid.
After a while, my eyelids would grow heavier, so heavy, and easing them open again would have been impossible.
I would lie there, still as a corpse, for minutes, weeks, and decades, until I felt as old as the earth beneath me. I would lie still, for eternity.
The earth would open beneath me, and I would fall, deep into an infinite, velvet darkness. With my eyes closed, and my body laying still on my bedroom floor, I would see the buttery glow of my lamp growing farther away, see my hair streaming out in writhing, rippling curls, see my hands held out limply to the receding light above me. There was no fear, no pain. No thought. Just cool embrace of the dark Styx pulling me close to himself. Silence but for the whispers of those long forgotten, those held in the arms of the cold river.
As I slipped deeper, and the darkness of eternity engulfed me wholly, my body would stay on my bedroom floor, breathing imperceptibly, and it would turn to stone. My bones would become dust, and sink into the earth that gave me life. My bedroom floor would be cleared away, burned or ripped up, and grass would grow, cedar trees would take root over my bones.
All that would remain to show my place would be a name and two dates, gouged into granite that would nestle among overgrown grass, surrounded by strangers, long since cleared of dying flowers.
And eventually, even the granite would wear away, eroded by wind and water. The cedar tree would rot, and the grass would die.
Eventually, even the memory will be lost, and nothing will whisper of how a girl once lay on her bedroom floor, listening to herself breathe.
An eternity, an hour later, I would ease my eyes open again, to be blinded by the muted light of my lamp, and to smell the woolen carpet under my palms.
Three years later, I remember, and the eternity that I saw in an hour would make sense to me. I have woken up, and I am not blinded by the brilliant, mulled light of my lamp, not choked on the scent of woolen carpet. I see now.
I am sixteen. An hour is no longer an eternity. The future doesn’t stretch away into infinity; it rolls away from my feet, running into the waiting arms of the dark Styx, who waits, just beyond the horizon. Sixty years isn’t such a long time at all.