By Christopher R. Whalen
She sat entombed in her castle. It was perfectly lit, although she could never see the source of the illumination. It was perfectly quiet. The temperature was perfect. Her castle was one simple room, perfectly circular. Its wall was made of rectangular gray stones, as was the floor. The seams between the stones of her wall were perfect. The stones touched each other with not even an atom-sized space between them.
Others had walls, this she knew. The walls of the others, although thick and tall, were usually scattered in front of them like a maze. Like any maze, there was an exit and an entrance and with enough practice and tenacity, one could climb, walk around or ignore the walls that the others had to contend with. They had hope at least. She had only one wall, that was it, but it encircled her completely. There was no exit, no entrance, no top to climb over, or side to walk around. The only weapons she had were her bare hands. Her hands were bloody, broken and scarred from years of pounding. Her hands, which were once supple, and silk-like, had become slightly disfigured from the millions of times she had approached the wall, made a fist and struck it with all of her might. It had been a long time since she approached the wall. She remembered the last time she had attacked it. She was reduced to kneeling in front of it, its utter strength mocking her. She sat there on her knees and wept; not the type of weeping that one does at a wake, or upon hearing bad news, but the type of crying that is uncontrollable and emanates from the soul. It was the weeping of a tortured soul that had been completely beaten. This great adversary did not speak, did not move, but stayed immovable, forever and there was nothing that she could do.
There she sat, cold, imprisoned, and more alone than any woman had ever been. Sometimes she had walked up to the wall, pressed her ear against it and she could hear others trying to communicate with her. These others had no idea that the real her was behind the thickness of her wall. She would laugh when the others would speak of how they believed they knew the real her, or how close they had felt to her. They had no idea how far away she was from them, even during what the others thought to be very intimate moments with her. Others had thought that they had broken down her wall already and had touched her true skin, kissed her real lips, and made love to her real body. Yes, she was to blame for some of this because she had let them believe that they were that close. It was hard for her, because her loneliness was overwhelming and she wanted to be touched. She wanted someone to touch her real cheek softly with the back of their hand and someone to love her body with her real skin touching his.
So she sat cross-legged surrounded by her wall.
One day she heard a noise that she had never heard before……
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