In truth, the Little One was not brave. They were just forgetful. And they only climbed as high as they did by forgetting that it was actually possible to fall. Then by unhappy chance, a rock crumbled beneath the white porcelain of their little hand and they slipped as it tumbled away. There they were reminded what gravity was, and they swayed like an autumn leaf in the wind, kicking and pawing for their lost handhold. When the child reclaimed their grip they clung like a flea on the mountain’s back, still and pondering, for the prospect of the fall had shaken their perspective.
They remained like this for quite some time. They watched birds fly and clouds pass below them while the stars rose and twinkled above. It was not so bad, the child thought. Perhaps they could stay here forever.
In their trembling heart they knew that could not be the way.
The Little One craned their neck to peer up at the waning sun. It hung in the air as patient as time. They took a long, slow breath and it fluttered around in their chest like trapped moths. Slowly, cautiously, the Little One lifted a single hand, and placed it down again against the mountain, a length higher. They were relieved when the world beneath them did not crumble as they thought it might. They dared again, lifting the opposite hand and setting it down. And again, and again, one after the other. In this way, they carefully ascended.
The mountain was strong. It had slipped once, but it would not yield again. And the child knew then that as long as they held it, it would not let them fall.
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