J. Andrew Goss – Balefire’s Dying Embers
Balefire’s Dying Embers
You squint hard trying to concentrate on the reasons. From sixty-eight feet above the water, the ice below appears as floating islands—clinging together for salvation in an unforgiving current. One by one, they pass beneath the bridge, marking time, as if such a thing exists. The wind is sandpaper on your face but the cold comes from within a hollow, dark place where warmth once resided. Again, you beg for the reasons but they won’t come. The mist rising off the water thins as the fog of your consciousness thickens. You grip the railing but your layers deny you the satisfaction of feeling raw steel. You slide your hand out of the mitten and watch as it sticks to the rail’s frost, a hollow shell of the living action. Your hand grips the railing and you feel the worn metal’s icy sting. The reasons still don’t come. Your mind cannot focus beyond the moment and your vision tunnels. You slide your fingers down the rail and feel its smoothness, worn from years of passersby eroding its textured surface until it is polished and compliant. You try to force the reasons to come. You cast one leg over the rail, then the other. Your knees are no longer a part of your body and the sweat on your hands freezes to the metal. Still, there is nothing but the moment. You lean out as if being closer to the action will offer vindication. You want to understand. A pickup stops and the driver yells something from a thousand miles away. “Don’t worry, it’s not me,” you want to yell back. You read somewhere that survivors feel regret as soon as they release their grip. You lean forward until only your fingertips suspend you. The driver has multiplied into a crowd; their voices all mix into a pleading orchestra. You hear them in distant, rising crescendos. You inch further, trying to push past the fog. A lighthouse appears and beckons you closer. The reasons are almost there. If only you could get closer the light will wash over you with warmth and you will have your answers. You relax your fingers. There is no regret. There are no reasons. There is only the water. Ice. Darkness.
J. Andrew Goss