of a house that rests in sunshine. They have always lived there. Their parents lived there
before them, and it is where their children will live after they are gone. They live down there knowing,
but not knowing, of the house standing over their heads. They know there must be a garden up there too because
from time to time the scent of fresh flowers drifts down into the darkness, but they know - at least they believe - it is not for them. Sometimes they hear people laughing -
they hear them, but never see them. They know of these people, up there, up high, but they never wonder why
some folks are up there while they remain in perpetual darkness.
In the cellar, when they are not sleeping, the people work. They carry stones from one side of the cellar to the
other. Backwards and forwards they do this, day after day. The stones are heavy and the work is hard, but the
people keep doing it because they always have, and because the stones are important to them. The people think they need the stones. They think they are nothing without them. They ceaselessly complain about the work and the weight of the stones, but they never question it.
No one ever says "Why are we doing this?" They just do it.
The people upstairs don't carry stones. They know they don't have to. They sit in the sun and laugh instead.
Once a day, a shaft of sunlight slants down through a tiny slit in the roof of the cellar. For a few moments, every day, a
glorious beam of warmth and light cuts through the darkness. The people will kill each other for
a second in that shaft of light. When it comes, they drop their stones and fight for the chance to feel the warmth upon their skin.
It doesn't matter, in those crazed moments, who gets trampled on. The old, the children, even their own families are
forgotten in the rush to catch a precious glimpse of that beam of light. They hate each other in those moments, and live in terror that they will miss the light and have to wait another day to get another chance. When the light goes out, they howl and moan and growl in the darkness, full of resentment, anger and bitterness.
One day the unlocked door to the cellar creaked open. A man walked slowly down the gloomy steps into the darkness. The people peered at him in distrust. Who was this interloper? Why was he here? The people whispered that he was dangerous and a threat. The man spoke to the people in the darkness.
"My friends, there is no need for you to stay down here in the cold and the dark. You can walk up these stairs and through the door into the house above. From there you can walk outside to the garden. It is beautiful and peaceful there. There are trees and flowers and birds filling the air with magical sounds! You can be free to walk wherever you want. You do not need to carry the stones and stay in the dark. Free yourselves, and your children. Just make the choice - change your lives"
The people looked suspiciously at the man. What did he want from them? Did he want the stones all for himself? Was that it? Was he trying to trick them?
All at once the daily shaft of light beamed down through the slit in the roof. The people went mad. They clambered over each other to get to it, screaming and shouting, beating and clawing at each other. The man stood quietly at the bottom of the steps. When the light went out the people turned on the man. They blamed him for distracting them, for missing a second in the precious light. They advanced on him. As he stood quietly accepting his fate, he told them there was all the light they would ever want, just at the top of the stairs. They wouldn't listen, and they killed him. Throwing his broken body into the darkness.
Years passed and another generation lived and died in darkness. Their children grew to hate each other in their desperation for a glimpse of the light, just as their parents had before them.
Once again the unlocked door at the top of the stairs swung open. Another figure descended into the darkness and spoke to the people. Still they wouldn't listen. They beat the stranger and called him a fool. They drove him back up the steps and threw stones at him.
Time and time again, a new person would come and try to tell the people in the dark of a better life in the light, and time and time again the people would drive them away.
Then one day, for no particular reason, in the corner of the cellar a small childish voice was heard.
"What if they're right? What if all we have to do is climb those stairs to get out? What if we too, can walk in the sun?"
The people muttered and whispered. Fear rippled across the cellar. This was a frightening prospect. How could this be possible? What did it mean for them if they had been wrong all these long years? What if it was true? What if there was a simple way to walk into the light?
The child began to climb the stairs. Her mother called out, terrified for her daughter. She tried to stop her, but the child ran to the top, her hand upon the door. She pushed it open and light flooded down into the darkness.
The people in the cellar had never heard such a laugh.
It was easy... it was the sound of freedom.