Once, there was a man who lived right next to a big gaping hole in the earth.
For years, the man cautiously opened his door each morning, tiptoed around the edge of the hole careful not to lose his balance even for a second, and headed off to work. All day at work he thought of the hole and how, if he didn’t keep his mind on it, that day could when he would fall in.
One day, something unexpected happened and the man left work earlier than usual. It was a lovely sunny day and, for a moment, he forgot about the hole and just sat in the sunshine allowing his mind to wander. He followed the dreams in his head and liked what he saw. He stayed until the sun went down, then he headed home. He had not thought about the hole for a whole afternoon.
That evening, as the man walked up his drive lost in thought, he fell into the hole. It was a long way down. When he reached the bottom, he thought to himself ‘that was even deeper than I thought. I knew I shouldn’t have allowed my mind to wander, now look what’s happened!’ He kicked the dirt with his toes and cursed himself for getting carried away by his dreams.
The man stayed in the hole for what felt like a long time. There was hardly any light so it was hard to be sure but it felt like weeks, at least. One day, he woke up with a nagging curiosity that hadn’t been there before. He walked to the edge of the pit and pushed as the wall. It crumbled in, revealing a small, dark tunnel. ‘Well, I’ll be no worse off there than here,’ he thought, and climbed in. It was even darker in the tunnel. It was cold and narrow and there was no light at all but still, he stumbled along in the darkness, refusing, this time, to give in. Eventually he reached another pit like the one he had just come from. This one was even deeper and wider than before. The man’s shoulders slumped. He lay down and went to sleep.
When he woke up, something had changed. He opened his eyes and found himself blinking against a brightness he has become unaccustomed to. His first thought was to close them and go back to sleep but something made him stand up and think again. In the light, the man could see footholds on the wall opposite. He could also hear a voice somewhere in the distance. “Start climbing.” It said. It wasn’t a request. Trembling slightly, the man began to climb. He was tired and hungry but he’d had enough of the hole and if this was a way out, he would put every last bit of energy into reaching the light.
As he neared the top of the hole, he hesitated. “Come on!” The voice sounded impatient. ‘What if it’s a trick?’ he thought, and considered going back where he’d come from. At least there, he knew what to expect. He stayed at the step near the top, clinging on by just his fingernails for almost a whole day before deciding to continue.
When the man reached the edge of the hole and threw himself over, a hand reached out to help him. It was a woman he knew, but he couldn’t think where from. “You don’t recognise me do you? I’m your neighbour! I’ve lived next door to you for years.” He tilted his head to the side. “You mean on the other side of the hole?” He asked. Her brow furrowed. “Hole? What hole? You’ve had a bit of a time of it haven’t you?” She laughed and touched his cheek with her hand so briefly he wondered if it really happened. He looked back behind him and she was right. There was no hole, just the greenest, smoothest lawn he’d ever seen and a patch of beautiful burnt orange roses. He hadn’t even realised there were flowers in his garden. he shook his head and smiled at the woman.
“Nonsense. I was just being neighbourly. Come on, I’ve just baked a pie. Pop round when you’ve had a chance to recover – I bet you’re starving.”