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Over The Edge
My fingers scrabble for purchase, stones and dirt
dropping on me as my descent continues, slowly, but
inexorably. My arms feel dead and leaden, the only
reason I am still holding on is perhaps I can no
longer move them out of position. Fingers locked
into claws, torn and bloody, no longer feeling
their pain as I hang like some puppet jumping for
I should be terrified, but I'm not. I just look up
at the cliff face, see how far I've fallen, knowing
I can't get back up, and just hold on.
Why? It's like a movie that doesn't know when to
quit. What am I waiting for, trying to stave off
the inevitable? Here in this stasis, this limbo
betwixt life and death - what's the point in
To hell with this. At least death would be
something different, and the pain would be quick -
not this eternity of being stuck here in torment,
my life gradually being taken one minute at a time.
I slowly, agonizingly, remove one of my hands from
This is it. Moment of truth. Do I have the courage
to die, to end it all?
Ready to lift my other arm, ready to PLUNGE to
whatever waits below, I hear a voice float down
from above me:
"Take my hand."
Here I am, dangling by one arm, over the abyss, and
NOW someone comes to save me? The irony of this
cosmic joke is not lost on me.
I look at her hand, it's all I can see of her and
doubt starts to hammer into my conviction, my
decision to fall.
Feeling comes back to my right arm, with pain as it
reaches up, while my left feels like a zombie's.
They describe me; half dead, half alive, and I have
the possibility of going either way. It is up to
I have to admit this to myself. I'm a chicken. I
don't have the courage to die. Shards of fear, ice
running through my veins, in my soul. I accept the
offer of continued life and take her hand in mine.
When you're hanging on a ledge, one slip: over the
And I'm dragging her with me. I think about letting
go; I was already doomed. I don't want to draw her
into a similar state of limbo. I can see her face
now, as I slide down the edge, I look into her
eyes, and something in those brown eyes tells me to
hold on, come what may.
She doesn't seem at all frightened, just concerned
about me. Almost as if she's completely unaware of
our situation. She couldn't be that clueless, could
she? Or is she just out of her mind?
Whatever her sanity, she's willing to help me, and
that counts for a lot in my book. Agonizingly
slowly, my arm feels like it is being gradually
torn from its socket, I start inching my way up the
cliff. Every moment is torment. Seeing her up
there, trying so damn hard, inspires me. I imagine
she must be going through similar suffering.
Freak! As I feel death so very close, I wonder why
I ever thought I could go so meekly to oblivion. I
DO NOT want to die! I know that now, as all my
remaining energy is focused upon survival.
This is it. Moment of truth. Do I have the courage
to live, to continue the journey?
I truly don't know how long we hang there, almost
frozen, in our shared descent. Finally, exhausted,
I am over the edge, on the blessed level ground.
The waning moon, sharp sickle of a crescent
somewhat ominous above, casts little light upon us.
What now? Who is she?
She is no radiant angel from Heaven, no bewitching
fae queen out of Arcadia, no sky-clad nymph of the
woodlands. She is ... normal.
How can I say that, though? How can I say that when
this woman, through her kindness, dragged me back
from that fateful plunge, risking her own life to
save my own?
Normal? Yeah, right. She might have looked
ordinary, but to me, a person's beauty shines
through their actions. She'd saved my life for no
more reason than it needed saving.
What now? Still lost in this darkness.
"Come with me," she says, and she leads me through
those shadows, the trackless waste.
As we walk, carefully avoiding hazards that she
seems to sense before I do, I wonder why she leads
me, why I follow her. Looking back over my life, I
guess I had a lot of ghosts haunting me. Too many
things Iíve done which I'm not proud of. Looking
back, I hated what I have become, and I still feel
some shame, and suspicion that this new path I
choose has not changed me within.
As the adage goes, I am a leopard trying to change
his spots. Is that even possible? I'd been so
apathetic about my fate, as if I felt I didn't
deserve it, or as if it would have been futile to
try for one.
She thought I was worth saving. She thought I was
worth leading past all these dangers. She'd almost
died for me ... and I didn't even know her.
It is hard to hate myself against that care.
We stop, and as I watch, the gloom recedes, the wan
light increases in power. Some primal feeling grows
within me, a primitive reverence for the sun, about
to rise. The long night will soon to be over, and I
am still alive.
Within that ever-lightening landscape, she, this
ordinary, yet extraordinary, woman, turns to me and
tells me: "You are not alone."
Slowly, she then fades away, as the almost sun
quests towards us with feeble fingers of light.
What the freak? But ... she was here! She was REAL!
Now she is gone. I still couldn't answer the
question. Who was she?
Was she a fragment of a dream, a ghost of the past?
Did it matter? She'd led me to the horizon, saved
me from an eternity of painful limbo.
The rising sun is like the future, the new day
unknown. Could the future be any worse than what
had just happened?
Stupid question, as my imagination runs rampant.
This could be the start of something even more
horrendous. Negative thinking, I know. But how
would I ever find out without going forward?
Maybe I will meet her again, that ordinary, yet
extraordinary woman - she has to be real!
As the tiny light of the sun spreads over the
Earth, with the memories of her in my mind, the
freedom she gave within my heart, I proclaim to
no-one but myself:
"I am not afraid."
The rays grow in number and strength. I think about
her once again, forgetting about her fading away,
and even the mystery of her uncertain existence.
What she means to me, what she represents.
She is hope, she is redemption, she is love. Fills
me to overflowing, the flames rush through my
once-cold soul, giving me new life. I may as well
be that rising sun, breaking the day in the moment
between sleep and wakefulness.
This truly is an awakening for me, as I realize the
truth of her last words. I am not alone. I had
never been alone. She is with me now, as she has
Crashing down upon the battle-lines of night and
day, the border between now and next, today and
tomorrow, that light nigh drowns me as I cross over
the edge. My tears of washed-away pain of the past
and new joy of the future spin rainbows in that
radiant cascade. I can keep walking upon my journey
without fear, without doubt.
As I stand there bathed in the waves of sunlight, I
hear her voice again.
"Welcome to the dawn."
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