a catalog of regrets, pt. 3

There was a time I was meant to lead my people out of the darkness. Maybe I still am--I don't know. There's a lot of things that seemed certain that have become strangely nebulous in the recent weeks.

It went like this:

The sky was clear, for once. After weeks of what seemed like perpetual darkness and endless cloud cover, the night sky shone cold and bright on the earth. I had spent several weeks without the guidance of the stars, so that night I dropped everything and went out into the garden to contemplate. A crescent moon hung in the sky, and the stars burned brightly. And every single one of them was wrong.

This was not the sky I had left behind weeks before, the sky that told of a golden age for my people. I could not read this one at all. These stars were simply not mine. So, for the first time since I could remember, I found myself feeling doubt. Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps everything was wrong.

I had thought myself alone in the garden, but as I stared into these foreign stars I noticed that there was someone else there. He told me that there was another way. He indulged my questions. He convinced me that the life I had been preparing for for so long--the world I had been born into--did not need to be the future. I could be myself, happy and free, untroubled by these stars.

In my weakness, I said yes. In my heart, I hoped to have both worlds.

Not one of my followers heard this exchange, but there must have been some change within me. Over the following days they all left me, one by one. My words no longer held the sway they once did. Ultimately I found myself alone. And the man I had spoken to spoke the truth: in my solitude I found myself free. And freedom was a thing more beautiful and more dreadful than I could possibly have imagined.

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