The Final Stair

By Maria Kouznetsova

Today, I reached the final stair. I didn’t know it until just now, since I was enshrouded by a fog of immediate concerns, but when I took a minute to look up, I saw before me a door. It was the same old unremarkable door that had been there before—that had been there all my life, in fact— that seemingly unattainable door, just too high to step through, and until now, too far away to even think about.

This time, when I looked at it, there seemed to be something different. Instead of frowning at me as it had done throughout my uphill journey, its surface appeared softer, as though its harsh edges had completely disappeared; I saw for the first time the intricate carvings covering its entire surface. The door looked beautiful, now I thought about it—it was even illuminated in a bright golden glow.

I cast my eyes about for the source of light. My gaze came to rest on the previously unoccupied space below the door: a stair. Not just any stair, I can assure you. This particular stair radiated a blazing golden aura that warmed everything it touched. Unlike the door, it was quite plain; its sole decoration was a sort of trim along the top edges. If it weren’t for the trim, I might be afraid to step on it for fear of disturbing its polished surface. But besides all this, the stair was beckoning: it was inviting me to enter the door.

Just then, I realized what this step really meant. I had been told that it would appear, that I would be one of the lucky ones who would see it through the fog without a fan. And here it was, a reward for my hard work, and a blessing.

I also understood that I had an opportunity to look back at all the trials that had come and gone during my travels. From atop this elevation, this peak in my adventure, I would be able to see all the hills, valleys, forests, and pastures I had encountered. But before I moved, it occurred to me that I might spend so much time looking at the landscape before me and reminiscing at every blade of grass, pebble, and dewdrop that I might forget about the stair waiting patiently behind me. Even worse, what if the landscape was still covered in the fog I had just left, which would swallow up my eyes when I turned around?

Perhaps there was no need to look back one last time. After all, I could picture every minute detail in my mind. I paused for a moment, trying to decide. Then the solution came: when I left, I would be carrying the landscape along with me in my heart, never to be lost. And surely, I could look back later, for where there is a door, there are almost always windows.

My courage had gathered during this unanticipated pause; it was time. As I planted my feet on the stair—confidently, but nonetheless with care—four words reverberated through my soul: I have a future.