A symbolic short story by Lake District based author Nisha P Postlethwaite. Set in Cumbria this tale centres on an individual's struggle for self acceptance.
She found herself at the bottom of a hill before a flight of steep steps carved in the rock. She couldn't remember how she’d got there. ‘Walk with me,’ said a male voice. She hadn’t realised there was anyone next to her. The man was staring at the flat-bottomed clouds, they billowed on top and carpeted the sky. He placed his foot on a step.
‘I can’t come with you,’ she said. ‘I’m not a good person.’
‘I doubt that,’ he replied, climbing the first step.
She hesitated and considered the arduous climb ahead. ‘I've had terrible thoughts … it’s too awful.’
‘We’ve all had wicked thoughts.’ He turned to look at her. ‘It’s whether we act on them that count.’
She decided to climb the steps with him. ‘But it’s not that simple…’ she struggled to find the right words. ‘I’ve had angry, bitter thoughts. I’ve wrongly judged people. I’ve not always been honest with others or myself. Now it’s too late.’
He gently tapped her arm. His touch was like the breeze. ‘The very fact you recognise it means you are a good person. You are not defined by your past.’ He glanced back down the steps before he smiled at her. ‘Who you are now is all that matters.’
She saw they were high above a lake that dazzled like a sheet of glass in the sunlight. She couldn’t understand how they had climbed so high in such a short space of time. She realised there were only a few steps left ahead of them. I’m frightened, she thought.
‘Frightened?’ he said. ‘Don’t be. You’re stronger than you think. You know what’s right, or you wouldn’t be here.’
As they reached the top of the hill, she noticed the serene silence all around them; she could only hear her heart beating gently in her chest. She turned to him. ‘If you knew the terrible things I’ve thought about, you’d never forgive me.’
He shook his head. ‘Only you know your thoughts. Let them go,’ he said. ‘Let it go. You are free.’