I feel utterly powerless. I try so hard yet breathe so little. The hour of discontent has stretched relentlessly, impossibly, for decades. I am my father and my father is me. Who is the greater coward? He, who took his life? Or me who ran from mine? I have grandchildren I have never met. Only one of my nine children have I seen in the past two years. My discord I keep tucked away, hidden I think, but perhaps many see my secrets, sense my true nature.

I was lost and withered most of my life. I knew little of love and joy and fulfillment. And peace? I knew not at all.

I descend timidly down the dark staircase, knowing only vaguely what I will discover. I am drawn to my calling mistress; her song is my drug, my addiction, my yeast, my prominent ingredient. I can pretend no longer. The Light has never been my friend. I am a child of darkness. This is my destiny.

And so, I take another step, feeling with my bare toes the creak beneath as it calls to me, as it reassures me. “Come,” is its simple beckoning.

Around me I see only the implements and discarded junk of years of neglect: three old window air conditioning units; carpet remnants, rolled in their musty fragrance; dozens of near empty paint cans; a cheap print of a bad painting of Venice, from the 70s, with burnt orange frame. But in the eye of my mind, in my true seeing, what appears to me are my brethren, those lost and wandering souls whose place is the darkness, whose calling is to provide the ebb to that mysterious flow that is life, and their unwanted yet needed mistresses: sorrow, pain, confusion, and sensitivity to all things bright and pure.

We are the great impurity which must balance that which is good. We are the forsaken. We are the welcome residents of the place of dark seed, the hidden and secret underbelly of the world.

Another step and I have found firm footing on the hard and dusty concrete floor. Its chill is welcome; its chill provides comfort. I am home in the darkness.

I’ve visited this place before, many times, but this is the first time I see the door, in the corner, where the light from the staircase above dare not reach—the door. The door is locked but the key hangs from a golden necklace around my neck.

Key in hand, I unlock the door. With the barest hint of trepidation, I enter.