in #freewrite5 years ago (edited)

The spiral steps narrowed on the decent. Caroline felt the stone pressing in all around her. She slowed her breathing purposefully. It was on the list, so with each step down the cave entrance, she was closing in on the promise she made her husband when he passed suddenly. It wasn't fair of him to require this of her, anymore than it was fair of him to leave her to carry on without him.

The hollow sound of water dripping down below echoed up to her. Somehow it was comforting to know that there was a spring at the bottom. The cool flowing water would feel good on her fingertips. On the final turn the whole view opened into a large cavern. In the dim light it looked like the lobby of a five star hotel. The lovely ascending and descending constructs, the buttery columns framing the room were exquisite. It was truly a work of art carved out over decades. The idea that water could cut stone was remarkable.

All of the tension over the last three months left her. There was a solitude in being underground. She couldn't bear to put him there any other way. Her slender fingers worked the knot around her neck untying the leather string . She secured the locket and clenched it tightly in her palm. The cool cylinder in her hand was hidden from the other spelunkers.

There was a single thread of Caroline's red hair wound around the cork. She worked it between her fingertips. She wasn't nervous, but wondered how she might feel letting go of the small amount of ashes. It was only the first of many such deposits she was going to make. After this she would leave part of him behind forever. Suddenly she felt a gnawing at the back of her throat.

It took only seconds. No one noticed, no one grabbed her and comforted her for the difficult task she had just completed. There were no condolences and the tour was only half finished. She made her feet move forward with the group where they were directed to sit on a bench. Caroline didn't fully comprehend the warning, but suddenly found herself in complete darkness when the guide turned off the lights.

She strained to see anything, any glimmer of light. It was that feeling of being a child, half afraid, half delighted. It was short. In a flicker they were back, filing toward the steps again. The exhausting weight of her body rebelled against leaving the cave.

It was hot when she reached the top. Mosquitoes buzzed around her. In the gift shop she purchased a small stuffed bear for her niece. It was funny, she thought, the journey changed her, one droplet at a time, erasing the stone in her heart.


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