I was frightened. We all were.
They say the waiting is the hardest part, and that is true. We all were too scared to think, to hope to dream, to fear.
You hear rumours, of course. But back in the Learning, they told us it did not matter what we felt, whether we hoped, dreamed or feared. They say what is waiting for us out there does not depend upon us. They say all our stories are different, but we do not choose them.
Still, as you wait and wait, it is hard not to brood on these things. Just in case, it is best not to think about what will lie beyond that door when your turn comes.
But not thinking about it is harder than thinking about it.
Through that door, our stories are waiting for us.
One by one, we step through, out of all we have known into something new, something different for all of us. There are lives out there for each of us they tell us in the Learning. They tell us there that they will be good lives, fulfilling lives, lives that go far beyond anything we have known here inside the shelter. They say our lives will be long and happy. They tell us we will find love, purpose, adventure, even a home out there, far beyond the narrow confines of the corridors, rooms and stairwells of the shelter. Out beyond everything we have ever known.
Although, there are the whispers and tales.
Stories and rumours circulate once the dorm lights go out and we whisper together in the soft glow of the night-lights. People say that out there, there are things far beyond our nightmares, far beyond our understanding, far beyond any fear we have known locked up here inside this sanctuary. They say that out there, beyond the door, are stories that go far beyond any nightmare we have ever had.
Some even say that the stories waiting for us out there are too real, far more real than our lives here, the safe, staid routine of eating, sleeping and the days in the Learning.
It gets so you don’t know who to believe or what to believe. As you wait, the fear and the hope do battle inside you, each one overcoming the other as you wait and wait for the waiting to be over and longing for the waiting to go on forever.
As they said, the waiting is the hardest part. And so you worry. If they were right about that, right about the waiting, what else that is said, whispered, in the half-light of sleep time, is true.
All of it, or none of it?
After all, once you are through the door and into your own story, there is no coming back. No-one returns to recount the tale of their story. No-one comes back screaming in terror or shivering in silence with eyes haunted by all they have seen and a mouth unable to speak of the horrors out there. No-one comes back to say how happy they are, how they have found a place for themselves, a world for them filled with love and a place called home.
And then your name is called, and you step forward. You can only wonder why no-one had ever come back to share their story as you step through into the new world waiting for you.