By Jenn Faris
One step, one step at a time, it's simple, so simple and yet he struggles to put one foot in front of the other.
Take the first step; deny the fear, platitudes he's heard before. But this...he's closer now, one footstep away from the metal stairs. And he wants to climb, to step on like everyone around him, but his mouth is dry and he's so very afraid.
He can see the top, see the people exiting, see the glimpse of sun above the glass roof. And he stares wistfully up, wishing he could move, wishing he could follow them, take his place and join the masses. Be like them; be like everyone that he isn't. And maybe he doesn't want to be like them, and maybe he wants to be himself, only he's not sure who he is anymore.
He's close, close to ascending, to being a part of everything above. One last step and he'll be there, he'll have reached the top. His eyes drift shut and he thinks of moving up, of going up to where he needs to be and he smiles a pure smile, the warmth of the sun on his upturned face and he knows he's joined them. He sees the others, hears the approval, feels the acceptance, and he thinks perhaps he had nothing to fear before this moment.
No one notices the boy waiting in the corner, afraid to take his first step, a beatific smile on his young, frightened face.