Gilly stood in the middle of a bare room with a scarlet colored rope tied securely around her neck. She couldn’t move more than a couple of feet in any direction.
In another room, separated from the first by a long narrow hallway, was another girl by the name of Ruby. Ruby stood in the center of the room though she appeared to be asleep.
A youth stood at Ruby’s door, knocking loudly and calling her name.
“Who is calling” Ruby answered, rising to consciousness though she was still asleep. “Oh, its you.”
Ruby ran up to the youth in the long trench coat and threw her arms around him. He hugged her back, but Ruby thought his eyes looked rather sad. “You left the door open,” Ruby said. When the boy didn’t move, she insisted, “You must close the door.
“But I have something to show you,” the lad said.
Ruby moved around the boy and closed the door.
“Why do you insist on confining yourself to this small room, Ruby, when you have a whole magnificent house to play in?”
“Because I feel safe here” Ruby raised her eyebrows. Didn’t the boy know what happened to her? Surely he did. Ruby glanced uneasily into the hallway, startled by the sight of a wagon loaded down with some kind of objects.
“What have you got in that red wagon?” Ruby asked.
“It’s a ladder, Ruby. You know Gilly needs a ladder to climb up to remove the rope from around her neck.”
“No!” Ruby shouted and ran to the far corner of the room. “You can’t … You wouldn’t give a ladder to Gilly.”
“Not I, Ruby, but you. This ladder is my gift to you, but in order to receive it you must be willing to pass it along to Gilly.”
Ruby looked at the lad as if he had just lost his mind. “Give it to Gilly… You don’t know what you are asking of me. Don’t you know what Gilly did to me?”
“Yes. “ The boy said quietly. “I do.” Of course he knew. He had known Gilly before she did that awful thing to Ruby. If Ruby had not managed to get the scarlet rope around Gilly’s neck, she wouldn’t have survived.
“Do you know how badly she hurt me?”
“Yes.” The youth said in a peculiar voice, “But don’t you think it is time to set her free?”
“Set her free!” Ruby shrieked. “I thought you cared about me. You don’t love me at all. You know what she’ll do to me…”
“Ruby…” the youth spoke gently, “you don’t have to keep Gilly bound to be safe from further hurt.”
“Of course, I do..”
The youth took Ruby’s hand. “Look in the wagon, Ruby. You will see…”
So they stood, locked in a sad gaze for some time, at last Ruby broke away, her curiosity and something else, a feeling she couldn’t quite define, getting the best of her. “What else do you have in the wagon?”
Opening the door wider, the youth stepped into the narrow hallway. He picked up a rusty bit of metal.
“What is that …thing,” Ruby couldn’t help asking.
“This, my dear,” the lad smiled, “is a magic armor. You will find, once you put it on that it is no longer heavy or unsightly. It will enhance your natural beauty while protecting you from the assault of your enemies.”
“I am still afraid,” Ruby answered honestly.
“I am not finished yet.” The youth walked to the wagon and picked up something that looked like a barrier such as one might find placed across a restricted roadway. “This little piece, “he said with a smile,” is invaluable to you.”
“What is it?”
“It is called a boundary. It is a part of the plan to release Gilly, Ruby, without inviting further harm yourself.”
“How do I use it?” Ruby asked, her voice going up in pitch as she began to sense an unfamiliar excitement.
“Did you notice that there is a long hallway between the room where Gilly is confined and yourself?”
“Well… part of the process of freeing Gilly involves placing these boundaries across the hallway so that once Gilly is free she does not have free access to you as she did before. “
“Can she remove them?”
“No. Only you can do that. And you will move the boundaries only when you feel safe to do so.”
Ruby paced the floor, thinking deeply about what she should do. Suddenly she stopped and anger clouded her face. “Why should I do any of this? What did Gilly do for me—except to cause me a great deal of pain?”
“You are asking the wrong question, my dear,” the youth said. “Perhaps you should ask “Who gave me a ladder so that I could remove the rope from my own neck.”
“What do you mean?” Ruby asked, startled. Her hand went to her neck, and she discovered for the first time that a thick rope was bound securely around her neck.
“Why do you think you have stayed so long in this room, Ruby?” The youth asked gently. “When you bound Gilly ,the same rope wound itself around your neck also.”
“But I didn’t do anything!” Ruby wailed.
“Everyone has done something, Ruby,” the Youth persisted. “Think really hard…”
“I didn’t do anything as bad as Gilly did,” Ruby insisted.
“The rope is not reserved for such measurements, Ruby.” The Youth said. “That is why I said I have brought the ladder for you. But there is a rule of the house, that if I give you the ladder, you must agree to pass the ladder along to Gilly after you have availed yourself of it.”
“So the only way I can get rid of the rope around my neck is to agree to pass the ladder along to Gilly?”
“That is right,” the youth answered.
Ruby thought for a moment. “And Gilly cannot get through the boundaries unless I give her permission?”
“That is the purpose of the boundaries,” The Youth said, lifting one of the barriers in his muscular arms. “Shall we begin?”
“Wait!” Ruby was leaving nothing to chance. “So, you give me the ladder and I free myself. Then I give the ladder back to you and you deliver it to Gilly. And then….” Her voice trailed off.
“And then I help you place the barriers across the hall way so that you are safe to wander in the whole house and not just in this tiny room.”
“Okay,” Ruby said.
The youth placed the ladder beneath the rope and Ruby begin the climb to the top where she would remove the rope at the ceiling and set herself free. At precisely that moment Ruby began to think about all the wide and beautiful rooms in the house, and found, to her surprise, that she couldn’t wait to surrender the ladder to the youth and begin to explore rooms long forgotten. Who knew what awaited her just around the corner.