The path led straight to the door of the cabin that I had built with my own hands. Years in the making, the outside of the cabin was smooth while the interior was elaborate. Yet, the smoothness of the exterior hid the truth of how much work had gone into making it what it was today.
Each log was meticulous, but it had not always been that way. For that matter, neither had the interior. With not much effort, I could remember the day that I started building.
The day was dreary and snow lay all around me on the ground. My fingers numb from the cold, my heart though was warm and content. However, the feeling changed the moment I started down my path for the day. Every step became a burden on what should have been a sun-drenched journey.
The path was ordinary and plain. Each stone looked as though they had been worn smooth by those who had walked before me. Yet, as I admired the trees and flowers that graced each side of the path, I could not help but wish for a smoother walk. The look of the stones was deceiving for they were hard against the feet. If the truth were told, the stones were painful and I longed for a place to rest.
That first journey on the path was not without its dangers, but I could not see anything that would have required hesitancy on my part. Onward I walked toward my destination. I was but a few steps into the woods, when I realized that I could not return the way I had come. Vines had grown up behind me and pressed me forward. Reluctantly, I took my next steps toward the unknown.
The further I walked, the more I longed for respite. One day, the pain became unbearable and I stepped off the path into a clearing that seemed to miraculously appear. It was the right size and instinctively, I understood that it belonged to me. I am not sure how I knew that, but the growing darkness that threatened to swallow me alive forced me to make a decision. In some ways, it was made quickly, but it had actually been a long time in the making.
Grabbing my tools, I cut my first tree. My inexperience in building created an almost instant dilemma. The logs I tried to fashion were worthless. The wood was too soft and it had not been treated correctly. Every attempt to notch the logs and build a wall only frustrated me. The cold wind blew and my logs blew over with little effort. They would never serve to offer protection or warmth on the cold nights of the winter that lay ahead of me.
I would eventually learn the right way to build my cabin. In the beginning, I did not see the need to spend time building it for occasionally the sun would come up. I soaked up its warmth like a sponge in water, but the days became darker and longer and I knew I must hurry.
Before long, my building progressed at an amazing pace and the results were astounding. Regularly, I would look at my hands and ponder what they had created. My long-term goal was not to live permanently in my cabin. Yet, the more that I completed, the more I longed to remain at the end of each day.
Finally learning which trees were of the right building material, I hand-crafted every log. As each piece was moved into place, I began to consider how I should design the interior. What furniture should I construct? Should there be pictures on the walls and trinkets on the bookshelves?
Just as another winter storm began to pummel my cabin, I placed the finishing touches on the last wall. Just in time, I mused as I sat content in what my hands had built. Anybody looking from the outside would not have thought the cabin was a masterpiece, but it was to me.
Strange as it may seem, I had but two windows to look out. From my vantage point, I could watch the path in both directions. My clearing was big enough to even observe the skies for coming storms. Those who walked the path might find my cabin, but I had taken this into consideration. From a distance, you could not see my new home. Truthfully, if you were on the path that ran just outside my cabin, you would still not see it. The only way to know that it existed would be to take time to observe and examine the oddities of my clearing.
Should a person walk past, they might have noticed the light in my windows. Only by looking inside would they have even noticed where I lived. It was not a thing of beauty to anyone but me, and I loved it.
The storms raged day after day, week after week, but I remained secure and warm. Each day I would start a new fire with the kindling and logs that I had cut and stored meticulously. Looking from my windows, I began to realize that the storm would never end. Darkness descended and I was startled to the reality that I had forgotten to build a door. Or, had I?
Inside my cabin for the long winter, I could not remember each phase of my building going up. How could I have forgotten a door? The walls were firmly in place, and every day I spent that winter was spent arranging all of my belongings to the point where the cabin was comfortable.
Looking out at a nearby path, I tried to remember the walks in the sun and the warmth on my back. My memories struggled though to recall the wonder of Spring and I thought that I would never enjoy life with those who walked by me. They seemed uninterested in building their own cabins, and rarely did I see anyone that might have been interested in visiting me. Nobody seemed to want to get close to my clearing, much less my cabin, so in my cabin I remained.
As winter progressed, I still looked out my windows, but I did not care for what I saw. All that I needed was in my cabin. Sadly, I never noticed that the lights I had built were growing dim with each passing day. The fires I built no longer produced the warmth that my body needed. I grew colder and I knew my days were numbered.
My cabin had long become what I thought was a safe retreat, but I longed for more. My tools lay dull in the corner and I could no longer remember how to use my hands to build otherwise I would have tried to build a new door. I wanted somebody to come visit, but nobody would. My cabin was well-hidden, built as a way to escape the hard, rocky paths.
Lying on my bed, the storms raged around me. Closing my eyes, I slept through the night never realizing that the fire and the lights in my house had gone out. There was no fuel left for in my time spent looking out the windows, I had not seen my supplies dwindle to nothing.
When I awoke, maybe I could invite somebody over for dinner. It would not be easy for them to look through my windows for time had already brought dirt to their surfaces. If a person had walked by, they would have seen the lights flicker beckoning for somebody to come by and visit.
The long night beckoned and I accepted the call. It was not what I wanted, but I no longer had a choice. There was no escape for what I had built for the doors of opportunity had long been sealed over.
As the night grew longer, I felt sleep coming to my eyes and body. For too long, I had struggled to stay awake, but tonight would not be that night.
“Mr. & Mrs. Jones, I am afraid I have some bad news. Your son has been racked with depression for years. The authorities found a number of medicine bottles scattered throughout his home. We found a note though that you may read when you are ready.”
Harold finally spoke up, “Officer, do you know how he passed?”
“Mr. Jones, the medical examiner concluded that he seemed to give up on life. The depression that he battled simply destroyed him and he died of a broken heart.”
That night, together, the older couple sobbed as they read Joshua’s final words.
Dear Dad & Mom,
My path began like any other person. You cared for me and protected me, yet I recall the day that I was called to step out by myself. From my first day at school, I was the smallest. I was never popular no matter how hard I tried. None of the other children probably meant to be cruel, but they were. The rides on the bus were agony, and the playground was a place of torture. At first, it was not every day, but it soon became a problem. The teachers never stopped them and I was too afraid to tell you.
Each day that passed required an incredible effort to wake up and take the walk again. I longed to return to the beginning, but the clock on the wall does not permit backward movement.
One day, I found a place that I could escape. Nobody ever bothered me, and the longer I stayed in my retreat, it became easier to build the walls that now surround me. There no longer remains a door to escape, and if there is, my eyes cannot see it.
Now that I am an adult, the bullying and the depression remain. I thought that high school and college would be different, but the windows to my soul simply clouded over as each storm battered my life. It seems that there is no escape but to the cabin I built in my heart and mind.
Soon I will sleep and I will no longer fear the storms. The storms will be behind me forever. I know that this knowledge will devastate both of you, but know that this is not a personal attack on you. I just wanted somebody to find me, to hold me, to love me back to the reality that is the world around me. There is so much that I could have seen, but all I desire is to sleep.
The fire is growing dim and the lights in my windows no longer light the path to my door. If you are reading this, you will know it has been forever extinguished.
Goodbye with all my love,
Written to those who battle depression and the pain of bullying every day. You are not forgotten. Don’t give up. Allow others to see the real you in your eyes which are the windows to the soul. Welcome change and help others to see the beauty of the life cabin you have built.
Originally for Writing Prompt #23 at Warrior Writers on Medium.Com
Too often, our world is busy – trying to keep us busy. Therefore, to write, we must be willing to put a bubble around ourselves and focus on the task at hand. The writer in the glass jar is surrounded by words, but how do they get there? Talent. Intent. Motivation. Effort. In other words, T.I.M.E.
What are YOU waiting for?