Creda huddled in the suffocating darkness, pulling her knees to her chest as she buried her face in her arms. The blackness of the night surrounded her like an unending embrace—no, not an embrace. It surrounded her like a pack of wolves, peering savagely at her as they waited to strike. The night was a hopeless monster with dead eyes, creeping closer and closer as her strength faded away bit by bit.
It felt like a lifetime since she saw the light of the sun, since she tumbled out of that white flower and into the world. She still wore the white petals that clung to her like a dress, though by now they were torn and tattered and did little to warm her.
Rain pattered down upon the top of the hollowed out log that Creda had taken refuge in. As she stood scarcely two inches tall, the log was more than large enough for her to shelter herself in, half-burrowed in the damp dirt of the forest, hiding from the dangers that had driven her there. Looming owls thought she would make a delicious dinner; beetles and spiders chased her out of the dens and trees that they jealously guarded; giant rain-drops threatened to flatten and pummel her as they plummeted to the forest floor. Every day brought new terrors that she had to face alone, and every day she wished more and more that she could disappear entirely.
Now she had disappeared, more or less. She hadn’t left the shelter of the dark log for longer than she could recall, and she had no want to. Darkness clung to her, and she found that it was easier to let it continue clinging to her rather than to fight it back. The night was an unending string of terrors that she could never hope to overcome.. For all she knew, the sun would never rise.
“Wake up, my child.”
With a little yelp, Creda leapt to unsteady feet as her throat tightened. It wasn’t the voice that had startled her. It was the fact that she could hear the voice so clearly above the din of the pouring rain that had surprised it. It was like the beginnings of a beautiful melody in an empty silence, and she wanted to hear the voice again.
“Who are you?” she called, her voice hoarse and ragged. She could see no one in the lightless world around her. But she had heard the voice.
“I’m here to help you.”
Creda crept forward, fingers tapping nervously against each other. “Where are you?”
“With you,” the voice answered. “You needn’t fear.”
A warmth began to glow inside of Creda’s entire body. It was so opposite the cold feeling that the
darkness had brought that she couldn’t help but catch her breath as she felt it. It was tiny, barely there, but it was there.
“You needn’t fear,” the voice said again.
“But everything that’s happened,” Creda said, sobs threatening to creep back into her throat. “And now it’s so dark…it’s so dark! I can’t see a thing.”
“Your eyes are closed, little one.”
“What?” Creda answered. “No, they aren’t. They’re open. It’s night. And it’s so dark.”
“Your eyes are closed.” The voice insisted. “Open them.”
Creda realized with a start that the voice was right. She had shut her eyes, and they were still shut tight.
“I’m afraid to open them,” she whispered, sinking back down into the dirt, turning her face down.
“I’m afraid to open them.”
“You’re afraid of what you’ll see,” the voice prompted. “And of what you won’t see.”
“You’re more afraid of the disappointments of a false hope than you are of the darkness that plagues you.”Creda jerked her head up. All was still dark. Her eyes were still closed. “That’s not—.” But she paused. It was true. It was exactly true. For what was the use of hoping in a thing that might flee from her and take all her happiness with it? Wouldn’t it be better to sit in the darkness of the log, resigned to the night, than to hope in a sunrise that may never come?
“You’ve shut your heart to hope,” the voice said, gentler than ever, and that gentleness pierced Creda’s heart more than any shout or scream could ever hope to. “You’ve shut your heart to any hope of sunrise, because you think that the disappointment you’ll feel at an empty sky will be worse than any unending night.”
“Yes,” Creda admitted, nodding her head. “Isn’t that true?”
“My little one,” the voice said again, and though Creda couldn’t see, she could tell by his tone that the owner of the voice was smiling. “Oh, my little one, you are not the only one who feels this way.”
“Of course not. So many have forgotten the power of hope, how it is a light that beats back the darkness of your mind. It’s not a mere fancy; it’s not a mere wish. It is a power indescribable. Let it back into your heart.”
“I can’t,” Creda whimpered. “I’m too afraid.”
“I’ll help you.” the voice said. Then, after a pause, the voice added, “But you need to let me help you.”
Creda felt that warmth glow in her again, like the ghost of a past hope returning to her after years of beating it back. It felt so good, so warm, so welcome…
“I’m afraid,” Creda whispered again.“You needn’t fear,” the voice answered. “I’ll help you.”
“What do I need to do?”
“Open your eyes.”
“I can’t,” Creda insisted. “I can’t do that. What if I see things I don’t want to see? What if I don’t see the things I want to see?”
“Your fears would be in vain, little one,” the voice said, “if you would only learn to hope again. The
world can be dark, yes, and cold, and lonely even. But the sun rises over it all at the end of every night.”
Creda paused, hesitating. The words rang so lovely, so true, so perfect, and she wanted to believe them more than anything in the world. But she simply couldn’t work up the nerve. She could still feel that warmth, that hint of courage that had begun to grow within her. But it was still so hard. It was still so frightening.
“Reach out,” said the voice. Creda obeyed, holding her hands out, and instantly she felt a pair of hands take hers and lead her forward. She took a hesitant step, following as the hands guided her onward. She didn’t know where she was going. She didn’t know what she would find when she finally opened her eyes. But she knew that she trusted this voice.
“Just open your eyes,” the voice said again, kindly, softly, invitingly.
Creda took a deep breath. She opened her eyes.
The light blinded her for a moment, a rich, glowing light that surrounded her inside and out; a light
that seemed to be living, moving, flowing; a colorful light engulfing the darkness that her closed eyes had brought upon her. As her eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness, she found that she was standing high above the ground, perched firmly upon the outstretched limb of a sturdy tree. The tree stood at the
edge of the forest facing an open green field dotted with wildflowers. In the distance, cresting two mountains that embraced the horizon line, was the sun peeking its golden head into the sky, rising up from the ground and granting light to a blind world.
“The light,” Creda breathed, her heart thudding within her chest. The warmth of the sunbeams penetrated her skin, her heart, her mind, filling her with its own light like an enormous fire granting flame to an unlit candle.
“The light,” came the voice, distant but still clear. It seemed to be coming from the sun itself, which crept upwards bit by bit into a pink and golden sky. There was no longer any one holding onto Creda’s hands, but she could still feel the warmth impressed upon her like an embrace.
“I’d almost forgotten what it looked like,” Creda whispered breathlessly. The scenery before her blurred as her eyes brimmed over with tears.
“Hopes founded within the light are rarely disappointed,” the voice said gently. “There is no pain too great for this light to wash away.”
Creda clasped her hands together, leaning against the trunk of the tree. Below her was the forest floor, the place of terrors and loneliness. Above her was the sky, distant and beautiful. And the sun rose over it all.