Paulette believed in magic. She could feel it rumbling in her chest. Beyond the place that she called home she knew there was something more, grander than she could even imagine.
“Do you ever feel like we’re not alone?” she asked her sister one night as they lay in the darkness waiting for sleep.
“That’s impossible,” her sister said. “I’ve never seen any other beings here.”
“Sometimes when I go to fetch water I swear I can hear something by the water place. It sounds like the great beasts from father’s stories.” Paulette shuddered at the thought of the sound, a deep rumbling in her chest. She thought it strange that she was the only one who could hear it.
“Those stories aren’t real.” Her sister’s voice was heavy with sleep.
“But what if they are?” Paulette waited for her sister to answer, but she didn’t. Instead, she heard the deep breathing of sleep. Paulette stared off into the darkness, but sleep never came to her. Her mind was too busy.
Every morning, Paulette went to the watering place, where the water bubbled up from somewhere below. She did not go to fetch water like everyone else, but to sit on a boulder and listen. There, on the edge of civilization, was the only place she would hear the other world. Occasionally she’d ask someone else if they heard too, the hum that vibrated in her bones. No one else ever did.
The sound always seemed to be coming from somewhere above. Most believed that there was nothing up there, but the sound told Paulette otherwise. She’d sit and try to imagine what it might be like above. Was it overrun with giant beasts like in her father’s stories? Was it barren and lifeless? There was no way of knowing.
Climbing up would be so easy in the right place. Paulette certainly was strong enough to traverse the series of vines and branches to get up above. She could not see the top when she looked up. The light that they used to see faded into darkness.
Only one had ever climbed in into the darkness before. He did it under the cover of night when no one else would see, but one girl spied him when she’d ventured out to the watering place late at nice to get water for a bath. She said she was him climbed up and up until he vanished into the darkness. He never returned. Some said he was eaten by the great beasts above, but most knew that couldn’t be possible.
Paulette made her climb when everyone else was asleep. Sweat drenched, she clung to the knotty vines and pulled herself upward, scaling boulders straight up into the unknown. Arms and legs draining, she climbed and just when she thought she would never get there she saw it. The border that separated them from above was so close she could see it. Energized she climbed faster. When she reached it the border, she reached out her hand to touch the hard surface.
Paulette balanced on a great rock jutting out from the outer edge of her world and steadied herself by holding a long rope-like vine. She pulled a sharp rock from her pocket and with all her might struck the border above her. The dirt crumbled more easily than she expected. Soft grains of sand fell down all around her. She continued to dig until a single beam of white light shone down on her through the hole. The light was different than any she’d ever seen and for a moment Paulette wondered if it was God.
After a brief rest, Paulette continued to dig, widening the hole above her. Sometimes she would stop and rest her arms. She wiped the dirt from her face. She had no idea what she would see in the world above. Maybe she would see the face of God. Maybe she would find out that the great beasts were real. The rumbling was loud hurting her ears putting pressure on her head. She was tired and weak and wanted to stop, but there was drive inside of her pushing her forward. When the hole was finally being enough so much light shone through that it hurt her eyes. Paulette took a deep breath like she was getting ready to dive into a body of water and she stuck her head up through the hole.
The world above was more alive than the home they lived in below. Paulette understood why the other exploring had not gone back to their dark damp home. After only a few minutes above, Paulette considered doing the same.