Still on the Ladder
With a deep breath, you reach your arm higher and grasp the next rung, pulling yourself up. Rung by rung, you ascend higher into the tree canopy, wondering if curiosity really will kill the cat or if you’ll be glad you kept going.
At sixty feet up, you pause again, this time knowing better than to look down. Looking up, you can see there’s still no end to the ladder rungs. Up you go, slowing now and then to admire the intricate pattern of bark on the trunk in front of your face, or the way the branches twist outward, extending spirals of leaves from their center and forming a web of green fractals around you.
At last, you reach what appears to be a platform, over a hundred feet up in the tree, and you clamber onto it, hoping it will support your weight. It does, and it extends several feet in each direction, giving you room to sprawl out.
You sit down to catch your breath, and gasp in awe as you see the world below you from this birds’ eye view.
What seemed like an endless, stagnant labyrinth at ground level, now seems to have a pattern to it. The circus tents and all the noise are encircled by the giant cemetery, just as you’d explored.
And now from the treetop, you can make out the far edges of the giant brick wall that encircles the cemetery. It’s big enough that you’ve never gone beyond the brick wall – in fact the circus tents have been so captivating that it never even occurred to you to leave them until today – but by climbing up the ladder you’ve caught a glimpse of a land beyond the wall.
You inhale deeply, feeling a spaciousness and lightness you’ve not felt in a long time, if ever.
What would life be like, beyond that wall?
What if I ran away from the circus, and found a way over the wall?
You suddenly remember the electric shock zapped by the wall, and you furrow your brow. Going beyond the wall might be harder than you think, you realize. But until today, you didn’t even know anything existed other than the circus, so you didn’t even know to wish for a way over the wall. Now that you know there’s a land on the other side, your adventurous spirit has been awakened, and you want to discover what lies beyond.
What would it take to go beyond?
As you sit in the sunshine, breathing deeply and allowing yourself to dream, a faint noise interrupts your reverie, and you turn your head.
There, sparkling in the sunlight, hovers the floating silver craft, just inches away.
You know this is exactly what you’ve been wishing for, and you stand up, ready to climb in.