The ice crunched under my feet as I walked. The wind tore at my hair, whipping past my face. I trudged on, step following step. I had been walking through the snowy landscape for hours, my vision obscured by snowflakes. It was too late for me to turn around, even though I had tried, many times. Shielding my eyes with my hands, I lowered my head and moved forward. Always moving forward, forcing myself to walk.
All around me the wind howled, never ending. At first, I could hear nothing but noise. And then, from the cacophony, words. A voice.
“Meet me there.” Crunch. The snow was piling up, growing deeper.
“I want to go home.” I whispered back. “It’s too hard.”
The wind brushed past my ear. “If you quit, you will never stop thinking about me. About the things I’ve told you.”
“Yes, I will. If I stop now, I can sleep. In a warm bed, in a peaceful room. I wouldn’t be here, in the cold, in the dark. Alone.”
Crunch. The ice crackled under my boots. In the distance I saw a spire, gradually emerging from the snow. It was a castle, made totally of ice. The single tower reached towards the sky, endless.
The wind curled around my head, hissing. “See nothing but that shimmering castle, calling you home. Hear nothing but my voice, urging you on, give in to nothing but the road ahead. When you have done what you are here to do, you can sleep.”
My feet suddenly slipped out from under me and I fell, landing on my hands and knees. I gasped, pain shooting up my wrists and through my arms. I looked down at my painful hands, at my now ripped gloves. Angrily, I struggled to my feet, nearly slipping again. “I’m going home.” I whispered. “I don’t want this anymore.”
The wind blasted past my ear, ripping off my hat. I reached for it, but it was in vain. My hat disappeared into the night. “If you go home now, you will lay awake and restless. Your energy was meant for this voyage. Go on!”
I took another step. And then another. And then I was there. The silvery entrance of the castle towered over me, its doors frozen shut. With a cracking sound the doors opened, beckoning me in. I stepped inside without hesitation.
The wind swirled around the icy hall of the palace, whispering to me. “This is why you came. To write your words on these silvery walls. Now, write!” I lifted my hand and began to write. My fingers traced the shape of the letters, leaving shimmering trails across the ice. Everywhere I wrote, there were the words brilliant, lining the walls.
And then I was back, staring at my computer screen. The words I had written glowed back at me. The words I had fought for. The journey I had made to write them complete for the time being.
I shut the screen. It had been worth it. Worth it to trudge forward when I was tired, and when everything around me was cold and dark. When everyone else slept. When the light of my screen was the only one that still glowed late into the night. The words the wind had whispered to me rung in my head. They had been hard-earned. Not perfect. Far from finished. But mine.