“As for this myth, one sees merely the whole effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone, to roll it and push it up a slope a hundred times over; one sees the face screwed up, the cheek tight against the stone, the shoulder bracing the clay-covered mass, the foot wedging it, the fresh start with arms outstretched, the wholly human security of two earth-clotted hands.

At the very end of his long effort measured by skyless space and time without dept, the purpose is achieved.”

The room is white.

The room is bare, but for two chairs and a table between them.

The room is small, seated alone at the top of a hill and it nearly touches the sky, beside it, a large stone rests. The room has a window, and from there, you can see the universe, and everything after.

I sigh and take a seat on one of the chairs, I empty my pockets: my notebook and my pen, and put them on the table.

“You know,” I say, looking at the other empty chair, “we — you and I, we haven’t talked in a long time, not really.” I rub my hands and purse my lips. “But that’s my fault, isn’t it?”

I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. “Sisyphus,” I say. “I think about him sometimes.” I look down at my hands. “It must be hard, you know? To push that stone so far up the mountain, again and again, only to watch it as it rolled down, knowing that you’d have to do it all over again.” I wipe my eyes. I’m crying. “I’m…I’m scared. I don’t know what to do, and I’m scared.”

I scratch my head, and clean my eyes some more, but the tears don’t stop. “I left this,” I say, my breathing hard. “I left all of this because I wanted peace, I just wanted peace. But I haven’t found it, and things just keep getting worse, and,” I breathe, “I don’t know what to do. Can you tell me?”

I slouch on the chair. “It’s been years since I prayed,” I say, a small sad smile on my face. “I can’t remember when, that’s how long it’s been. In Divine Mercy, in Lady of Fatima, it didn’t even matter the church, or when Mummy would make us pray on the way to school: it just never clicked for me. All of this.”

I look at the chair.

“But,” I say, “I’m getting better, I’m good now. I think I have myself back again.” I sit up, and clean my tears. “I think I found my rhythm.” I shake my head. “And I did it all without you. That’s the truth, the one you don’t want to hear. I did it all without you! I dragged myself out and you weren’t there!”

I bolt up from the chair and point at the other. “You left me when things got hard, when they got difficult. And I would cry, and beg you, and you ever answered.” I wipe my eyes. “You never came. And now,” I fall back to the chair, my face in my hands, “I’m falling again, and I don’t know what to do.”

I hear a chirp, and I look at the window.

Sitting on the ledge, is a little blue bird with a beak made of gold, it sings a beautiful song, of life, and of death, and of everything in between.

I fall back into the chair, and sigh.

I spare a glance at the bird again, and then, I smile, but it is a sad smile.

I stand up, still looking at the bird, and then I straighten my shirt.

“I’m the only person here,” I say. “There’s nobody else. In the true version of this place, I am alone.” I walk to the window and lightly graze my fingers against the glass, as the bird continues to sing its song. “Then, little one, how are you here?”

I step away from the window.

I close my eyes.

And I breathe in.

Then I breathe out.

In.

Out.

In.

Out.

I open my eyes again and there is darkness all around, the smell of sulphur is thick in the air. I’m lying on the charcoal black grass, my eyes on the grey sky with clouds that do not move, or sway with the wind, they are statues in the air.

I bark out a laugh, and even that hurts. My body is broken and there are cuts and gashes on my skin, my clothes were torn a long time ago. I try to move, but I can’t.

There are no birds now. It is just me, alone.

I cough and I smile, as tears flood my eyes and pour on the ground, sizzling as they touch the hell grass. “I was wrong — I’m not falling,” I say, looking at the sky. “I already fell, didn’t I? And it happened a very, very, long time ago.” I bend my head a little to see my arm bent. “I can just see it now.”

Beside me is a rock, with fingerprints all over, and I look at it, the memories flooding my mind, and then look at the hill it rolled down from.

I breathe out.

“So,” I say, “if you’re listening, if you can hear me, if you ever cared, please, I need help.” I close my eyes. “I don’t know what to do, and I’m scared, but you don’t have to get me out,” I open my eyes and look beside me, the groans and screams and tears and laughter all pass through me like water in a sieve, “just give me the strength to move this damn boulder again.”

Amen.

“Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward that lower world where he will have to push it up again toward the summit. He goes back down to the plain. It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself!

I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like a breathing space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lair of the gods, he is superior to his fate.

He is stronger than his rock.”

— Albert Camus

Anthony Azekwoh is a Nigerian-based author and artist. He has written five books so far, and is now working on the sequel to his fourth book Ṣàngó, Oya.

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