One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
I stood on the edge of oblivion and looked down. As I shifted my feet, I could feel the ground crumble beneath me. But I was not afraid. For as soon as the earth fell into the blackness it was once again beneath my feet.
I struggled to figure out what I was standing on. Was it ice, lava, rock? I couldn't properly feel. It struck me that I wasn't breathing. But I was not uncomfortable. Nor did I feel the need to gasp for the next breath. I was content and unafraid.
I stuck my hand out into the gaping hole in front of me. I watched as the very molecules that bond me together repelled each other and drifted apart. Where my hand had once been, ash was scattering on the wind. I took a minute to ponder this peculiarity. I wasn't hurt. I could see myself unraveling, but I felt whole.
I pulled my hand back to my side and watched as it slowly came back into focus. I was whole once again. One body. But I knew I was only tempting fate. To step over that ledge meant to let go. To let go of all emotions. No happiness, no sadness, no pain. It was my choice. I knew not what lay ahead. Maybe it was just nothingness through now and forevermore. It was my choice. And a hard one. I could let go of pain. But that would mean letting go of redemption.
For I could not remember had I been a good or bad man. Had I left behind someone I had loved? Had someone loved me? If I had been a good man, would I reach the glory of eternal joy? If I had been a bad man, was I doomed to suffer? But standing here balancing between the two choices everyone is faced with, I wasn't sure what to choose. There was no indication as to what kind of man I had been. I wasn't in pain. But I wasn't happy. I was emotionless, like the brainwashed waiting on their next order. If I had been a bad man, I thought redemption to be favorable. But I didn't feel like a bad man. I didn't feel like much of anybody.
I knew I had forever to sit and ponder my choice. And maybe it would take that long. As much as I couldn't remember my own life, I was knowledgeable. I could conjure up images of pain and suffering. Of happiness and laughter. I had been released from my bonds on Earth. I was no longer part of that world. But was a part of me longing to go back?
My thoughts were on a roller coaster rocketing through my mind. I took a slight step back to steady myself and cried out in pain. I picked my foot up to see a clear circle burn, though I couldn't feel it anymore. I watched as it slowly faded and then I was healed. I knew then that the trip back would be hard. And painful.
I was so tempted to step off that ledge. I lifted my foot up and dangled it over the pitch black pit. I watched as my toes evaporated into nothing. Then came my shocking moment of realization. Whether I had been a good or bad man, I was more than this. I didn't know what was in store down the harder path. But maybe the end was enough to make the journey worthwhile. I pulled my foot back. The pain was all but forgotten as I turned around and stared at what was ahead.
I was shocked to see that behind me was a barren field. Surely I had stepped back on hot coals, or maybe I really was standing on lava. "This can't be right," I thought, as I took that first step. My face screwed up into a hellish grimace. I let out a shriek like no other before. But I could feel as the safety net behind me slowly dissolved leaving me with no where to go but forward. So I gritted my teeth and took the next step.
I touched my toes to the ground lightly, figuring if I was going to be burnt the whole way, I might as well make it on as little of my foot as possible. But this sensation was different. Pins and needles slowly came up my body as I felt a chill only the damned have ever known. Goosebumps rose across my skin. But I knew staying in this moment would get me nowhere. I could not become numb to my surroundings. This was my test. I felt as if every molecule in my being was simultaneously freezing and bursting. I gathered everything in me and took the next step forward.
This time when my foot touched the ground, I could feel the warmth spreading though me. But I wasn't burning. Not anymore. It was like a slice of warm apple pie. That was a thing, wasn't it? If not, it should've been. It was like hot chocolate. And sugar cookies. Was my test to leave this place that made me feel as if I never had been better? But then, all of a sudden, a weight that none other than the almighty have known crashed down on my shoulders. My knees buckled, and I fell upon the ground.
This weight was too much. I couldn't move. I couldn't lift it. Maybe I had chosen the wrong path. Maybe this was hell. Thinking that if you keep going you'll reach that pot of gold. But instead you end up inflicting pain upon yourself for no reason. For eternity. My mind raced. Maybe being able to choose my own path was a trick. Would there have been pain inflicted no matter which path I had chosen? The weight bore down on me. I no longer felt content and comfortable. I thought about lying down and just letting this weight crush me.
What if this was the final test, though? I knew I could be kidding myself, but this one was hard. I was fearful of being stuck under this weight forever, but at the same time, I couldn't move. I don't know how much time passed. Seconds, years, eternity. Just one more step I told myself. I didn't know that. But had I told myself two, I knew I would not have gone. I hit my hands and I crawled. And as I inched forward that weight just got heavier and harder to bear. But I kept moving.
Soon, the weight started to lesson. I was exhausted but I kept moving until all I could feel was my sore, achy muscles and the burns on my feet. I lied down where I was. A brief pause. I had held the weight of the sky, I thought I deserved a nap. All of a sudden, all pain was released from my body, and I became at peace. I slowly drifted off. But not into nothingness. As my eyes fluttered shut I could feel myself being transported to a place of pain, anger, and the very rare, fleeting moments of happiness.
I was not mad. For no matter what I had done to come into this unsavory place, this was the path I had chosen. I could tell that more test were to come. But as for now, I was tired. I passed out as soon as my body hit the concrete.
That is the story of how I was reborn. How the next chapter of my life started. The chance to be a hero was mine. And I would soon take it.
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