#ThursThreads, week 69

Prompt: http://siobhanmuir.blogspot.com/2013/05/thursthreads-challenge-that-ties-tales.html

Ankles numb from exhaustion, my feet slipped with each step. The stairs were worn and cracked, and the condensation from the cooling night air slowed me even more. I had lost count of the number of times I’d cracked my shins on the stone after a stumble, and in some places, the skin and fascia had worn away completely. I was not climbing to reach some particular goal; if I had one, it had been left at the bottom of the stairs. I climbed because up was not down.

And then I reached for the next step and missed. My forehead banged against the stone of the plateau as I fell forward, and I lay there, dazed. Slowly, the fog around me parted, and I saw the moon for the first time in memory, fat and full and low in the sky. I could not see from where I had come, but I could now see where I would go.

Up. An endless stair lay before me, narrower and steeper than the last. My will, which had receded during the last climb, broke, and I wept, though no tears fell.

“You. Have got. To. Be kidding. Me.”

“This is no joke.” The voice was musical and magical, the speaker a goddess of true beauty descending through the moonlight. “You will climb no more.”

I was not grateful, for that required something of me which I could not give. But gratitude would not have been welcomed.

“Instead, you will fall.”

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