Gobsmacked

Sep. 10th, 2012 01:43 pm
n3m3sis43: ((FMAB) Huuuughes and Winryyyy)
I've been walking for over an hour when I reach the village with the wooden sign labeled "Cliffton". My climb down the ravine and back up again has left me filthy and drenched in sweat. The people on the other side offered nothing but jeers and sneers - no news of Daisuke.

Passing the signpost, I enter the village. It's made up of small thatched huts and rutted dirt roads. One of these houses must belong to the traveler who helped me the last time I was here. My gut clenches with nervousness at the thought of knocking on random doors to look for him.

The people here can't be any meaner than the ones on the other side, I think. Besides, there's really no other choice.

Dust is whipping through the air. It settles for a moment and I notice two men standing not far from me. Only one is facing me, but I recognize him in an instant. It's the traveler! He's talking to another man, tall and well-built with long dark hair. His back is to me and I can't help staring at his rear.

"Really, Sam?" I mutter. I'm supposed to be finding Daisuke, not checking out strange men.

At the sound of my voice, the traveler's companion turns and looks my way. Our eyes meet and my stomach does an odd flip. And then I'm too busy screeching with joy and launching myself at him to be embarrassed, because it's Daisuke.

I throw my arms around his neck and he squeezes me so hard I can't breathe. It doesn't matter. Everything about him feels different, but I don't care about that either. He wasn't this muscly before, and he smells wrong, too - I guess they don't have his aftershave in Cliffton. Still, it's him and I don't want to let go.

He breaks the embrace and steps away. I feel self-conscious in his presence for the first time I can remember. No wonder I didn't recognize him at first. When I left him here, he was thin and his hair was short and spiky. Now it's past his shoulders, he's tanned, and he's put on at least 20 pounds of muscle. This place has apparently been good for him - he looks great.

"Um, Daisuke? How long has it been since I left?"

* * * * *

I'm crouching behind some trees in front of a small house. In the distance, I can hear the rush of a river. Apart from Cliffton, this is the first world I've visited more than once. Until today, I didn't know why.

The man with the bright white hair is sitting on the front step, head in his hands. He calls himself the Straw Man, and I've been watching him for weeks. Most days, his step is light and carefree. Today, he looks like the world is on his shoulders.

I'm at his side before he looks up. He's really off his game today. I lay a hand on his shoulder and he jumps. He isn't used to people coming here. Gray eyes wide, he looks at me.

"You're... like me?" he says.

"Not exactly. But I'm sure as hell not normal."

He winces as if he's got a headache. "It doesn't work on you."

"It doesn't have to. I'm just here to talk. You look like you need a friend."

"I just..." He trails off, then tries again. "I don't feel right anymore. Ever since I touched his mind. The broken man." There's no distrust in his gaze. Though he's got to be at least a few years older than I am, his eyes are clear and childlike.

"I haven't felt right in ages," I say, sitting down next to him on the bricks, "You get used to it after a while."

* * * * *

The sun is setting and a late spring breeze is blowing. Daisuke and I are sitting in his backyard the way we have so many times before. It's not the same, though - nothing is anymore. He's barely here even though he's sitting right beside me. I'm pretty sure I know what he's going through but I don't know how to help.

"I think I made a new friend today," I say.

"Really?" he says. He's staring off into space, a million miles away. I don't know why I bother.

"Yeah, in one of my stories. Isn't that weird?" That gets his attention. His dark eyes flash with anger I wasn't expecting.

"Great, another reason for you to be gone all the time."

"It's not like you notice when I am here anyway," I point out.

"I always notice, Sam. I'm just not ready to talk, okay? How long did I wait for you to tell me about your power?"

"That's completely different. You wouldn't have believed me." I look away, and my voice is barely a whisper. "You didn't believe me, Daisuke."

"Am I supposed to apologize for that again?"

"No!" I practically yell. This is not how I wanted this conversation to go at all. "I just... I just want my best friend back, okay?"

Daisuke looks at the ground and says nothing. He hasn't cut his hair since he came home. It falls in front of his face now, a black curtain hiding his eyes. Just one more thing between us.

* * * * *

He calls himself the Straw Man, and we've become friends. Sometimes we sit by the river, and other times we feed ducks at the park. He doesn't talk much, but I don't mind.

It's raining as I knock on his door. He steps back and waves me inside. Something's different - a second overstuffed chair in the living room. He's made a place for me. It's a thing I haven't had in what feels like forever. The simple gesture brings tears to my eyes.

"You didn't have to do that," I say.

"I wanted you to feel welcome. It's been so long since I've had a friend."

Just like that, I'm crying. Friends are a touchy subject for me these days.

"Daisuke?" he asks. I nod.

"He won't talk to me anymore. It's like he's mad and I don't know why."

The Straw Man says nothing for a long time. The silence stretches out before us but it doesn't hurt. He doesn't have to say a word.

"If I could touch your mind, I could help you find an answer," he finally says.

"It's okay," I tell him. "Just talking is enough."

* * * * *

It's almost fall, and the evening is cool and breezy. Daisuke and I are sitting on lawn chairs behind his house like always. The air is clean and crisp. It would be a lovely night, if we weren't having the same tired conversation for the millionth time.

"You haven't been around much lately," he says. I sigh, knowing this isn't going anywhere good.

"Yeah, I've been traveling a lot."

"Traveling?" he snorts. "Is that what you're calling it now? Like it's your job?"

I don't have anything to say to that. It seems he's always angry at me these days.

He breaks the silence. "You're going to see him, aren't you?"

"Why, are you jealous?" I shoot back.

"I just don't get why you're always visiting some guy who barely even talks."

"Like you ever talk to me anymore either," I mumble under my breath.

"What?"

"What's the point in sticking around here anyway? You never talk to me. I hate it here."

"I'm here, Sam."

"Yeah," I can feel the bitterness creeping into my voice. "Only you're not anymore. Not really."

Daisuke doesn't respond. He studies his fingernails intently.

"Come on, Daisuke. How long are you going to punish me for... for whatever I did wrong?"

"You never even considered what I wanted, Sam." He's glaring at me, eyes hard just like the rest of him now. "It's always about you and your power."

"What are you talking about?" I'm genuinely shocked.

"When you came rushing in to 'save' me..." He looks away.

"What was I supposed to do - leave you there?"

"It's just..." His voice trails off and he won't look at me. "Maybe I was happy."

"You're not like me, Daisuke. You have a life here."

"I had a life here, but that was a year and a half ago. I had a best friend, but even before I left, I was losing her," he says quietly. "Why do you think I wanted to go with you so badly?"

"Daisuke, I'll always be your friend." I get up and wrap my arms around him. His body stiffens but I don't let go.

* * * * *

It's a stormy night, and I'm sitting in the Straw Man's living room. Raindrops beat against the roof; it's a soothing sound.

"Daisuke finally talked to me," I say. "But it only made things worse. I don't know what to do."

"Be his friend, Sam."

"I'm trying! He won't let me." For the millionth time, I dissolve into tears. I hate this.

He looks at me with a gentle smile. "Keep trying."

Suddenly, he flinches and goes pale. He looks like he's going to be sick.

"Are you okay?" I ask.

The Straw Man takes a deep breath, nods slowly and holds up one finger. Wait.

He watches me for a while, head cocked, listening to words I can't hear. Emotions flicker across his face, as if he's having an inner debate. It seems like hours before he finally speaks.

"He loves you too - he's just not ready to admit it. Give it time."

Gobsmacked

Sep. 10th, 2012 01:43 pm
n3m3sis43: (Default)
I've been walking for over an hour when I reach the village with the wooden sign labeled "Cliffton". My climb down the ravine and back up again has left me filthy and drenched in sweat. The people on the other side offered nothing but jeers and sneers - no news of Daisuke.

Passing the signpost, I enter the village. It's made up of small thatched huts and rutted dirt roads. One of these houses must belong to the traveler who helped me the last time I was here. My gut clenches with nervousness at the thought of knocking on random doors to look for him.

The people here can't be any meaner than the ones on the other side, I think. Besides, there's really no other choice.

Dust is whipping through the air. It settles for a moment and I notice two men standing not far from me. Only one is facing me, but I recognize him in an instant. It's the traveler! He's talking to another man, tall and well-built with long dark hair. His back is to me and I can't help staring at his rear.

"Really, Sam?" I mutter. I'm supposed to be finding Daisuke, not checking out strange men.

At the sound of my voice, the traveler's companion turns and looks my way. Our eyes meet and my stomach does an odd flip. And then I'm too busy screeching with joy and launching myself at him to be embarrassed, because it's Daisuke.

I throw my arms around his neck and he squeezes me so hard I can't breathe. It doesn't matter. Everything about him feels different, but I don't care about that either. He wasn't this muscly before, and he smells wrong, too - I guess they don't have his aftershave in Cliffton. Still, it's him and I don't want to let go.

He breaks the embrace and steps away. I feel self-conscious in his presence for the first time I can remember. No wonder I didn't recognize him at first. When I left him here, he was thin and his hair was short and spiky. Now it's past his shoulders, he's tanned, and he's put on at least 20 pounds of muscle. This place has apparently been good for him - he looks great.

"Um, Daisuke? How long has it been since I left?"

* * * * *

I'm crouching behind some trees in front of a small house. In the distance, I can hear the rush of a river. Apart from Cliffton, this is the first world I've visited more than once. Until today, I didn't know why.

The man with the bright white hair is sitting on the front step, head in his hands. He calls himself the Straw Man, and I've been watching him for weeks. Most days, his step is light and carefree. Today, he looks like the world is on his shoulders.

I'm at his side before he looks up. He's really off his game today. I lay a hand on his shoulder and he jumps. He isn't used to people coming here. Gray eyes wide, he looks at me.

"You're... like me?" he says.

"Not exactly. But I'm sure as hell not normal."

He winces as if he's got a headache. "It doesn't work on you."

"It doesn't have to. I'm just here to talk. You look like you need a friend."

"I just..." He trails off, then tries again. "I don't feel right anymore. Ever since I touched his mind. The broken man." There's no distrust in his gaze. Though he's got to be at least a few years older than I am, his eyes are clear and childlike.

"I haven't felt right in ages," I say, sitting down next to him on the bricks, "You get used to it after a while."

* * * * *

The sun is setting and a late spring breeze is blowing. Daisuke and I are sitting in his backyard the way we have so many times before. It's not the same, though - nothing is anymore. He's barely here even though he's sitting right beside me. I'm pretty sure I know what he's going through but I don't know how to help.

"I think I made a new friend today," I say.

"Really?" he says. He's staring off into space, a million miles away. I don't know why I bother.

"Yeah, in one of my stories. Isn't that weird?" That gets his attention. His dark eyes flash with anger I wasn't expecting.

"Great, another reason for you to be gone all the time."

"It's not like you notice when I am here anyway," I point out.

"I always notice, Sam. I'm just not ready to talk, okay? How long did I wait for you to tell me about your power?"

"That's completely different. You wouldn't have believed me." I look away, and my voice is barely a whisper. "You didn't believe me, Daisuke."

"Am I supposed to apologize for that again?"

"No!" I practically yell. This is not how I wanted this conversation to go at all. "I just... I just want my best friend back, okay?"

Daisuke looks at the ground and says nothing. He hasn't cut his hair since he came home. It falls in front of his face now, a black curtain hiding his eyes. Just one more thing between us.

* * * * *

He calls himself the Straw Man, and we've become friends. Sometimes we sit by the river, and other times we feed ducks at the park. He doesn't talk much, but I don't mind.

It's raining as I knock on his door. He steps back and waves me inside. Something's different - a second overstuffed chair in the living room. He's made a place for me. It's a thing I haven't had in what feels like forever. The simple gesture brings tears to my eyes.

"You didn't have to do that," I say.

"I wanted you to feel welcome. It's been so long since I've had a friend."

Just like that, I'm crying. Friends are a touchy subject for me these days.

"Daisuke?" he asks. I nod.

"He won't talk to me anymore. It's like he's mad and I don't know why."

The Straw Man says nothing for a long time. The silence stretches out before us but it doesn't hurt. He doesn't have to say a word.

"If I could touch your mind, I could help you find an answer," he finally says.

"It's okay," I tell him. "Just talking is enough."

* * * * *

It's almost fall, and the evening is cool and breezy. Daisuke and I are sitting on lawn chairs behind his house like always. The air is clean and crisp. It would be a lovely night, if we weren't having the same tired conversation for the millionth time.

"You haven't been around much lately," he says. I sigh, knowing this isn't going anywhere good.

"Yeah, I've been traveling a lot."

"Traveling?" he snorts. "Is that what you're calling it now? Like it's your job?"

I don't have anything to say to that. It seems he's always angry at me these days.

He breaks the silence. "You're going to see him, aren't you?"

"Why, are you jealous?" I shoot back.

"I just don't get why you're always visiting some guy who barely even talks."

"Like you ever talk to me anymore either," I mumble under my breath.

"What?"

"What's the point in sticking around here anyway? You never talk to me. I hate it here."

"I'm here, Sam."

"Yeah," I can feel the bitterness creeping into my voice. "Only you're not anymore. Not really."

Daisuke doesn't respond. He studies his fingernails intently.

"Come on, Daisuke. How long are you going to punish me for... for whatever I did wrong?"

"You never even considered what I wanted, Sam." He's glaring at me, eyes hard just like the rest of him now. "It's always about you and your power."

"What are you talking about?" I'm genuinely shocked.

"When you came rushing in to 'save' me..." He looks away.

"What was I supposed to do - leave you there?"

"It's just..." His voice trails off and he won't look at me. "Maybe I was happy."

"You're not like me, Daisuke. You have a life here."

"I had a life here, but that was a year and a half ago. I had a best friend, but even before I left, I was losing her," he says quietly. "Why do you think I wanted to go with you so badly?"

"Daisuke, I'll always be your friend." I get up and wrap my arms around him. His body stiffens but I don't let go.

* * * * *

It's a stormy night, and I'm sitting in the Straw Man's living room. Raindrops beat against the roof; it's a soothing sound.

"Daisuke finally talked to me," I say. "But it only made things worse. I don't know what to do."

"Be his friend, Sam."

"I'm trying! He won't let me." For the millionth time, I dissolve into tears. I hate this.

He looks at me with a gentle smile. "Keep trying."

Suddenly, he flinches and goes pale. He looks like he's going to be sick.

"Are you okay?" I ask.

The Straw Man takes a deep breath, nods slowly and holds up one finger. Wait.

He watches me for a while, head cocked, listening to words I can't hear. Emotions flicker across his face, as if he's having an inner debate. It seems like hours before he finally speaks.

"He loves you too - he's just not ready to admit it. Give it time."

Bridge

Sep. 10th, 2012 10:22 am
n3m3sis43: (Default)
It's the first rule you learn as a child, even before "no hitting" and "say please and thank you".

Don't go near the ravine.

The ravine has been there for as long as anyone can remember. Some people believe it's a result of the Great War, while others insist it's a natural formation. The only thing we know for sure is that no one from Cliffton has ever crossed it and returned to tell the tale.

Our knowledge of the days before the war is extremely limited, our understanding of the Before People sparser still. They kept their records with "machines" and on paper. Some of both survived for a time, but no one knew how to preserve either one. Long ago, the former ceased to function and the latter fell to dust.

Though their records are gone, we do have a few things the Before People left behind. Over the ages, we've found scads of gaudy beads in wild colors, cups, plates and jugs, all made of a material that was apparently known as "plastic". It seems to be everlasting; perhaps they should have used it instead of paper to keep their records.

We've found lightweight metal cylinders by the hundreds, painted in colors that must have once been bright and bearing writing none of us can read. Their purpose has been the subject of much speculation. Many of them are crushed, but a few have been found intact. Once the diggers even found one that was still sealed. The scientists were unsure what to make of the hardened brown paste they found inside, but theorized that it was some sort of medicine.

Then there are the machines, by far the most fascinating of all the artifacts we've discovered. The only ones we've laid eyes upon ourselves are the ones in the abandoned plastics factory just outside town. Though they haven't run in nearly two centuries, they are still a sight to behold.

All children of school age in Cliffton are taken to tour the factory. These are the production machines, we tell them. This is where the workers ate their lunch. And this room right here, we say, is a storage room. It is here that we found thousands upon thousands of drinking straws, perfectly preserved in their plastic wrappers. The children always become very excited at that last bit - the straws are a special treat, hoarded carefully in paper boxes and given out only on holidays.

We know of the other machines only through the oral tradition. There were helper machines that assisted with cooking and washing and all manner of other household chores. There were great devices made of metal that rolled across the earth - it is said that their rusted hulks still litter the paths they once traversed. And then there were the thinking machines, called "computers".

By far the most ubiquitous of the Before People's devices, computers were required for every aspect of life. Adults used them for work and children used them for their schooling. The healers used them, as did the teachers and the record-keepers. Even some of the other machines required tiny computers in order to perform their tasks.

All that we know of these machines, we have learned from the Old Songs. Written by the First Elders, the survivors of the Great War who built Cliffton, the songs are taught to every child old enough to speak. It is the Old Songs that tell us the tale of the "tanks" that thundered over the land, the "jets" that screamed through the sky, and the "bombs" that blackened it as they rained destruction.

It is the Old Songs, too, that tell us to stay away from the ravine.

No one is sure why. Some people say that its depths are haunted by evil spirits, perhaps the ghosts of all who died during the Great War. Others claim that it's simple common sense - the ravine extends deeper than the eye can see, and crossing it would undoubtedly be treacherous. Still others insist that the danger lies not in the ravine itself but in what's on the other side.

Exactly what, or who, is on the other side has been the subject of much debate. Some of us believe that there are more people like us living over there. Now and then, smoke rises from behind the trees on the opposite side of the chasm; even the naysayers will admit that much. We "Lifers", as the others call us, are sure that the smoke is a sign of intelligent life.

The smoke isn't the only argument for our cause. The Old Songs say that before the Great War, there were billions of people living on the Earth. A billion doesn't have much meaning here, where the population numbers only four hundred and thirty-two. We're no more capable of understanding the magnitude of such a number than we are of building our own computers or even making our own plastic straws.

Still, on a planet that once supported so many lives, could there really be fewer than five hundred left?

No one knows, but we Lifers are determined to find out. Unfortunately, we are in the minority; most everyone else seems to think that we're delusional. After all, they say, the Old Songs teach that the people of Cliffton are the only survivors of the Great War. The smoke, they say, is probably coming from some sort of tar pit created by the bombs. If there were people on the other side, they ask, wouldn't they have tried to contact us by now?

For some reason, the fact that we exist and have not tried to contact them never seems to make an impression.

The Lifers have been petitioning the Council for decades now, since long before I was old enough to be part of their number. They want to build a bridge from one side of the ravine to the other and answer the question once and for all. Every year, they ask again to build a bridge. Every year, their request is again denied.

The last Council meeting was three weeks ago. Since then, I've been trying to work up the courage to come here. This morning, I woke before dawn, my body trembling from a dream I couldn't remember. I knew it was time.

Shivering with both chill and anticipation, I ate a small breakfast and dressed in a loose-fitting linen shirt and trousers. I packed my satchel with some provisions and pulled on my work boots. Grabbing my gloves and heaviest leather raincoat, well-oiled to protect me from the elements, I left my cottage for what may be the last time.

Now I stand at the edge of the precipice, gazing down into the snarl of branches below. Apart from my satchel, I have only as much rope as I can carry. I pray that it's enough. I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't afraid, but though the cliff is steep, it looks to have plenty of handholds. Others will call me a fool, but I think I might just make it to the bottom.

As the first light touches the sky, I tie my rope. The fear is still with me, drying my mouth and slicking my palms. My heart is pounding so hard that my chest aches and I can scarcely catch my breath. In an attempt to calm myself, I begin to sing one of the Old Songs. I focus on the words and the melody and the galloping of my heart begins to slow. Stealing one last look toward home, I begin to make my way into the ravine.

I may never make it back alive, but if I do, I will return a wiser man.



This story was originally written for LJ Idol intersection week. Its companion piece, by the wonderful and talented [livejournal.com profile] mstrobel, is here.

Bridge

Sep. 10th, 2012 10:22 am
n3m3sis43: (Default)
It's the first rule you learn as a child, even before "no hitting" and "say please and thank you".

Don't go near the ravine.

The ravine has been there for as long as anyone can remember. Some people believe it's a result of the Great War, while others insist it's a natural formation. The only thing we know for sure is that no one from Cliffton has ever crossed it and returned to tell the tale.

Our knowledge of the days before the war is extremely limited, our understanding of the Before People sparser still. They kept their records with "machines" and on paper. Some of both survived for a time, but no one knew how to preserve either one. Long ago, the former ceased to function and the latter fell to dust.

Though their records are gone, we do have a few things the Before People left behind. Over the ages, we've found scads of gaudy beads in wild colors, cups, plates and jugs, all made of a material that was apparently known as "plastic". It seems to be everlasting; perhaps they should have used it instead of paper to keep their records.

We've found lightweight metal cylinders by the hundreds, painted in colors that must have once been bright and bearing writing none of us can read. Their purpose has been the subject of much speculation. Many of them are crushed, but a few have been found intact. Once the diggers even found one that was still sealed. The scientists were unsure what to make of the hardened brown paste they found inside, but theorized that it was some sort of medicine.

Then there are the machines, by far the most fascinating of all the artifacts we've discovered. The only ones we've laid eyes upon ourselves are the ones in the abandoned plastics factory just outside town. Though they haven't run in nearly two centuries, they are still a sight to behold.

All children of school age in Cliffton are taken to tour the factory. These are the production machines, we tell them. This is where the workers ate their lunch. And this room right here, we say, is a storage room. It is here that we found thousands upon thousands of drinking straws, perfectly preserved in their plastic wrappers. The children always become very excited at that last bit - the straws are a special treat, hoarded carefully in paper boxes and given out only on holidays.

We know of the other machines only through the oral tradition. There were helper machines that assisted with cooking and washing and all manner of other household chores. There were great devices made of metal that rolled across the earth - it is said that their rusted hulks still litter the paths they once traversed. And then there were the thinking machines, called "computers".

By far the most ubiquitous of the Before People's devices, computers were required for every aspect of life. Adults used them for work and children used them for their schooling. The healers used them, as did the teachers and the record-keepers. Even some of the other machines required tiny computers in order to perform their tasks.

All that we know of these machines, we have learned from the Old Songs. Written by the First Elders, the survivors of the Great War who built Cliffton, the songs are taught to every child old enough to speak. It is the Old Songs that tell us the tale of the "tanks" that thundered over the land, the "jets" that screamed through the sky, and the "bombs" that blackened it as they rained destruction.

It is the Old Songs, too, that tell us to stay away from the ravine.

No one is sure why. Some people say that its depths are haunted by evil spirits, perhaps the ghosts of all who died during the Great War. Others claim that it's simple common sense - the ravine extends deeper than the eye can see, and crossing it would undoubtedly be treacherous. Still others insist that the danger lies not in the ravine itself but in what's on the other side.

Exactly what, or who, is on the other side has been the subject of much debate. Some of us believe that there are more people like us living over there. Now and then, smoke rises from behind the trees on the opposite side of the chasm; even the naysayers will admit that much. We "Lifers", as the others call us, are sure that the smoke is a sign of intelligent life.

The smoke isn't the only argument for our cause. The Old Songs say that before the Great War, there were billions of people living on the Earth. A billion doesn't have much meaning here, where the population numbers only four hundred and thirty-two. We're no more capable of understanding the magnitude of such a number than we are of building our own computers or even making our own plastic straws.

Still, on a planet that once supported so many lives, could there really be fewer than five hundred left?

No one knows, but we Lifers are determined to find out. Unfortunately, we are in the minority; most everyone else seems to think that we're delusional. After all, they say, the Old Songs teach that the people of Cliffton are the only survivors of the Great War. The smoke, they say, is probably coming from some sort of tar pit created by the bombs. If there were people on the other side, they ask, wouldn't they have tried to contact us by now?

For some reason, the fact that we exist and have not tried to contact them never seems to make an impression.

The Lifers have been petitioning the Council for decades now, since long before I was old enough to be part of their number. They want to build a bridge from one side of the ravine to the other and answer the question once and for all. Every year, they ask again to build a bridge. Every year, their request is again denied.

The last Council meeting was three weeks ago. Since then, I've been trying to work up the courage to come here. This morning, I woke before dawn, my body trembling from a dream I couldn't remember. I knew it was time.

Shivering with both chill and anticipation, I ate a small breakfast and dressed in a loose-fitting linen shirt and trousers. I packed my satchel with some provisions and pulled on my work boots. Grabbing my gloves and heaviest leather raincoat, well-oiled to protect me from the elements, I left my cottage for what may be the last time.

Now I stand at the edge of the precipice, gazing down into the snarl of branches below. Apart from my satchel, I have only as much rope as I can carry. I pray that it's enough. I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't afraid, but though the cliff is steep, it looks to have plenty of handholds. Others will call me a fool, but I think I might just make it to the bottom.

As the first light touches the sky, I tie my rope. The fear is still with me, drying my mouth and slicking my palms. My heart is pounding so hard that my chest aches and I can scarcely catch my breath. In an attempt to calm myself, I begin to sing one of the Old Songs. I focus on the words and the melody and the galloping of my heart begins to slow. Stealing one last look toward home, I begin to make my way into the ravine.

I may never make it back alive, but if I do, I will return a wiser man.



This story was originally written for LJ Idol intersection week. Its companion piece, by the wonderful and talented [livejournal.com profile] mstrobel, is here.

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