Passages: Crystal-Clear Awake

I read Susan Cooper’s Dark Is Rising Sequence over ten years ago, but long after I had forgotten the details, its mood still lingered in my memory. It’s no wonder, with atmospheric writing like this. In this scene from The Dark Is Rising, eleven-year-old Will wakes up in a time that is not his own.

Will went out onto the landing again and took a long breath, and he shouted with all his might: “Wake up! Wake up, everyone!”

He did not now expect any response, and none came. There was a total silence, as deep and timeless as the blanketing snow; the house and everyone in it lay in a sleep that would not be broken.

Will went downstairs to pull on his boots, and the old sheepskin jacket that had belonged, before him, to two or three of his brothers in turn. Then he went out of the back door, closing it quietly behind him, and stood looking out through the quick white vapour of his breath.

The strange white world lay stroked by silence. No birds sang. The garden was no longer there, in this forested land. Nor were the outbuildings nor the old crumbling walls. There lay only a narrow clearing round the house now, hummocked with unbroken snowdrifts, before the trees began, with a narrow path leading away. Will set out down the white tunnel of the path, slowly, stepping high to keep the snow out of his boots. As soon as he moved away from the house, he felt very much alone, and he made himself go on without looking back over his shoulder, because he knew that when he looked, he would find that the house was gone.

He accepted everything that came into his mind, without thought or question, as if he were moving through a dream. But a deeper part of him knew that he was not dreaming. He was crystal-clear awake, in a Midwinter Day that had been waiting for him to wake into it since the day he had been born, and, he somehow knew, for centuries before that. Tomorrow will be beyond imagining . . .

from The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper






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