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The Trap: Chapter 29

My world is a thousand-square-metre disc and I am standing on the edge. Out there, on the other side of my front door, lurks my fear.

I push down the handle, open the door. Before me is darkness. For the first time in many years I’m wearing a coat.

I take a tiny step and the stabbing pain in my head is back. But I have to get through this—through the fear. The front door falls shut behind me; there’s something final about the sound it makes. Night air hits me in the face. The stars twinkle in a cold sky. All at once, I’m unbelievably hot; my guts seize up. But I take another step, and another. I am a lonely seafarer on foreign waters. I am the last human being on a deserted planet. I stumble on—ever onward. I reach the edge of the terrace. It is black all around me.

This is where the grass begins. I set one foot in front of the other, feeling the soft meadow beneath my feet. Then I stop, out of breath. The darkness is inside me. I feel sweat on my forehead.

My fear is a dark well that I have fallen into. I’m suspended vertically in the water. I try to touch the bottom with my toes, but there’s nothing there, only blackness. I close my eyes and let myself fall. I’m sinking in the dark, my body is drifting down, swallowed by the water; I’m being sucked down. The well is bottomless; I’m sinking deeper and deeper and I let it happen: my eyes closed, arms waving above me like waterweed. Then, all of a sudden, I reach the bottom of the well, cool and firm. I feel it brush my toes, and soon my weight is resting on it and I’m standing.

I open my eyes and notice in amazement that here, in the heart of darkness, I can stand and breathe effortlessly. I look about me.

The lake is still. A light breeze whispers at the edge of the woods. There are crackling, rustling noises all around me. Birds in the undergrowth, perhaps, or a busy hedgehog or prowling cat, and I realise how much life there is here, even if I can’t see it. I am not alone—all those animals in the woods, on the meadow, in the lake and on the shore—all the roedeer and red deer, all the foxes and wild boars and martens, all the little owls and tawny owls and barn owls, the trout and the pike, the grasshoppers, ladybirds and gnats. So much life.

A smile steals onto my lips. I am standing at the edge of the meadow. There’s nothing left of my fear. I set off again. I step out into Van Gogh’s starry night. I look about me; the stars make streaks and the moon is a smudge in the viscous, gleaming night sky.

I think to myself that the night is not just mysterious and poetic and beautiful.

It is also dark and frightening. Like me.


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