Edward’s shadow stretched across the room. A candleflame wobbled against the wall. He had started to dream, but now he was awake again.
6 years had passed since he had leaked classified NSA information worldwide, since he had been an international headline, since he had become a fugitive to his homeland. He still appeared for virtual conferences, lectures, mostly for universities.
But life had quieted around him. It had gone on, and he watched it each day via the Internet.
Outside Russia was snowing. Lindsay slept on the bed. He stood up from the floor where he had been meditating.
He felt like going outside. He didn’t question the feeling. He pulled on wool socks, snowboots, and swung a trenchcoat around his naked body. He didn’t expect to be out long.
The gravel sank under his boots as he made his way to the streetlamp on the end of the block.
It was very late, and nobody else was around.
He came to the edge of the lamplight, but didn’t step into it. He stared at the hard boundary on the concrete where the light and darkness separated. He wondered for a moment why he was there.
Then he looked up at the lamp, and just as quickly, he was looking down at himself. He saw a young man in a trenchcoat and snowboots, looking up at him.
He was up in the sky with the streetlamp down below him.
The lights of Moscow radiated out in all directions. He realized that he felt no cold, and that he could see very far, as though it were day, but it was still night. He could see to the Moskva river and beyond it.
He could see the snow falling around him in the dark. He could feel how soft it was, as though it was enveloping him.
And he could not describe it then, or even to Lindsay afterwards, how he knew. But he knew in that moment that something bigger than himself, bigger than America, was here with him. And it was letting him know that he was a brave soul, that he had done a noble thing, that he had nothing to regret, nothing to fear, because he had fulfilled his highest purpose.
It came as a warm breath of light into his chest. And it filled him, as it filled the snow, as it filled the entire night.
Then, gently, he felt the ground below his feet. He put a hand out and eased himself onto the snow, where he lay for a moment with the flakes falling onto his face. He wasn’t tired, just tremendously at ease. As though he had walked out of the warmest shower.
Now, he could go to sleep.
(dedicated to Edward Snowden)
(* thank you to Robert Bauder @ http://bauderart.deviantart.com/ for the excellent Snowden portrait; all credit goes to him)