What Lies Beyond

  On my twelfth birthday, papa took me to the Window of Light.  It was a huge squared opening at the end of our dwelling's cavern, and all of us Po'pi must go and peer into the light before starting work in the fields. So we carried our small canoe to the edge of the grassy meadow, and launched it into the dark lake separating the land from the gigantic window at the end of the cavern.

     It was early morning and a golden glow had just begun to flood the squared stone walls; and as we jumped into the canoe, a young doe which had been drinking from the cool water raised her head in alert and then pranced away--- back toward home as we rowed our way to the edge of our world. The light sparkled in the dark ripples the canoe made during its slow passage;  and had a particular warmth to it that reminded me of fire, but didn't burn.

     The closer we got, the window grew ever larger. We were but ants in the massive golden frame as our canoe landed against a rocky shore on the other side. Papa tied the canoe to an old weathered post; and directed me toward a steep set of winding stairs which ascended the cliffside, etched out of the smooth but cragged light-gray boulders. He said I must go alone, and that he would be here for me when I returned. With a deep breath and a comforting squeeze on my shoulder from a loving father, I climbed the stairs toward the great window until it encompassed all of my view and I could see no else, save the winding path of steps leading ever closer.

     My heart was pounding as I reached the summit, and all tiredness in my legs dissolved in the full blast of the warm, golden light. I don't know how long I stood there, as time seemed to slip away and became a distant memory. I just looked and looked, not really sure what I was looking for; yet I looked on, enthralled by the hypnotic glow of the great Window.

     As I peered deeper, it seemed as if an image was forming. Slowly, it materialized, until I could clearly see a young boy similar to my age, and he was nearly as tall as the massive golden frame. He was in some sort of room and was hunched over, holding a kind of black rectangular box in his hands.

     "Is this thing working?" I heard him say. His voice was strange, like coming through a sheet of water in the midst of an echoing cave-- the voice of God as the elders typically described, although I never understood where they had heard it until now.  "Come on, I just turned this thing on… MOM!"

     "Hello?" I called out, though in a bout of bravery or fear, I can never tell you.

     "Oh, there it goes," the Boy said, "took you long enough. Can we start playing yet?"

      "What?" I called out, not understanding his meaning. The Boy's thumb flicked a small grayish pike extending from the  box in his hands, and I decided to walk left along the screen, perhaps to get a better view of his surroundings. Heaven was a strange place, with many unrecognizable things- though I could clearly see what was meant to be a bed, a place to hang his clothes, and a wooden door which closed off what must have been a bedroom. I was looking into God's bedroom. Amazing.

     "I said I want to play now," the Boy replied in a supreme whine, and I felt the sudden urge to run along the screen in the other direction, jumping and skipping and kicking rocks. Odd behavior sure, but we all do strange things when nervous. The Boy rolled his eyes-- "If this doesn't load in five seconds I'm getting a refund. Hey avatar! Did you hear me? I will delete you!"

     "I hear you, God!" I cried out, crawling along the jagged cliff on my belly-- which hurt quite a lot, I recall. "Anything you ask I will do."

      "Of course you will," he replied with a snort. "That's what this thing is for" He flicked the small pike again while I ran around in a small circle. "I swear I don't know why they gave them A.I. in this one... its just a farming simulator. And its so dumb, too, like it was born yesterday."

     "I was born twelve years ago, my Lord," I called in correction, finally feeling myself again and standing still in the middle of the window.

     "No, dummy, I made you like six minutes ago… seriously I will delete you if this game does not pick up quick…"

       I never quite understood everything the divine Boy told me that morning in the Window of Light, but I worked hard for Him in the fields and deep mines for the rest of my life; even until it was time to take my own child across the morning-kissed lake and up the steep winding steps to peer into the void of our mighty creator. Unlike my father, I told him what to expect; and the clever child went prepared with a full list of detailed and intriguing questions. I still await his return as I write this, but I couldn't be any more proud.