"It's like breathing underwater", she said to herself as she curled up in the sunny corner of the room. The timber floorboards radiated heat, and it felt like being enveloped in the palm of someone's hand. She felt small. The space swam with people, and scents; the yellow beams cut through the tall, breezy clerestory windows. It was a wedding reception. All was a blur and nothing concrete can be said about the laughter and the stories which passed that day. She was in her own mind; it was warm. She was happy to be small...as long as she was there.
Being small was part of her life. She did this every day, pulling sleighs to and from the fishing docks. Every load felt heavier and as each day went on, her team mates would pull less...always less. It was her nature to do more, and always more. She felt obligated to, like there was no other way; because she knew that it had to get done. How else would her masters eat? How would her family eat? "Do it for everyone else", they said. She was raised this way- to swallow every emotion which came to surface- because if it came through she would get whipped. It was always this way. Get angry and get punished. So she kept working, never stopping...always pleasing.
Last winter, the harbor edges froze and the boats arrived in large waves. The steady flow of shipments soon became congested, and loads of cargo had to be pulled in sprints by all the teams. At times they would wait for hours, and for others they had to pull large shipments without stopping. There was always more to do. Their feet dragged through the darkness, and they lost themselves a little more each trip.
It was on the 28th haul that her breathing became shallow; like trying to breathe underwater. Why couldn't she will herself to move? Why was there a sharp pain in her chest?
"Just a little more, a little further...I love you, you're almost there. Then you can rest", she said to herself. Something released in her, like an explosion in her chest; and something warm poured inside. That night she was dragged the rest of the way.
Maybe she wasn't meant for this life. But if she had a choice, where would she go, and what would she do? She served her time and she fought for those who depended on her. Though nothing was given back, she still loved them. With everything she had, she still loved them....and despite this, she didn't want to give up. She wanted to live, but for what? For whom?
Time is healing...
The space was warm with the spring air which carried the scent of jasmine, lavendar, and burning candles. It was crowded with tables filled with guests and a course of entrees, carefully selected by the bride. There was joy, atmosphere, and relief from the passing winter. A bright light pierced through the clerestory windows and pushed onto the floorboards under the sleeping animal at the corner of the room. No one saw her there, and in their hearts she didn't exist. But in hers she remembered everyone. She waited paitiently to be called, while resting in the palm of the sunlight which filled that space.