A rope bridge sways in front of me, presenting options. It can be my escape. But its decaying wooden planks and unwinding twine don’t exactly inspire confidence.
I’ve seen this play out in a dream, a premonition. But I can’t remember the ending now.
In my mind, I know. I can see my weight jostling the first plank loose. In fact, I know that the bridge is so weak that my weight will jostle every plank loose. I picture each of my hypothetical steps sending clunks of bridge down to splash in the abyss. I know if I’m timid, if I’m weak, I will step with hesitation and definitely die. But if I force my way across the bridge, my mind free of fear, my heart full of faith then I only might die.
The temperature begins to chill around me, and I know the ghosts have arrived. Eluding them completely was a hopeless notion. They’re more relentless than hounds and they don’t need any scent to find me.
They can hear my beating heart. They’re drawn to it by their jealousy. In anger, they will rip my life from me to turn me blank like them.
I’ve seen grown men give up in their presence, curling into a ball and crying as the ghosts ravaged their life away, prying their souls into the cold. That lack of resolve is disgusting at best.
Compelled to live, I run, embracing recklessness and swallowing all doubt as I place my faith in the bridge. Running is tricky, my steps forcing the bridge to bend to my weight. I adjust my balance with every step. Just as I predicted, the twine begins to tear, and the planks begin to fall. I can hear them, but in my mind they sound more like a ticking clock.
I struggle harder. I’m almost there. And with my energy waning, I heave myself toward the edge of the cliff to grasp it as the entire bridge falls into oblivion. I’m clutching the edge. Somehow I’m clutching the edge. With my last ounce of strength, I pull myself up.
All of a sudden, I feel blanketed by cold. The ghosts are truly relentless and they’ve followed me with ease. Perhaps, I underestimated them. I’m dead. I tried, but I’m dead. No regrets.
As I feel their icy hands dig into my chest, I bite my lip to force myself awake. I need to fight.
Have I ever quit in my life? Is it time to quit? Especially when I have nothing to lose and everything to gain?
All of a sudden, I hear the aberration screech so loudly that the air shakes. The sound sends ripples through my skin and writhe in pain. I can feel my pursuers depart.
But I’m warm. I’m still warm. An hour of bewilderment passes as I lie on the ground. I touch my face. I’m still me. I’m still alive.
“What’s your name?” I hear a child’s voice call.
“Who the fuck are you?”
“I asked you first.”
“I’m. I don’t remember.”
“I’m gonna call you Lionheart then. Lionheart, whose blood burns so hot ghosts don’t wanna fuck with him.”
“Fine. Who are you? Why is everything like this?”
“What do you know?”
“It’s been like this since I can remember. But I can’t remember why? Why is it like this?”
“It’s always been like this.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Sometimes you die. Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you fight. Sometimes you quit. Sometimes things don’t make sense.”
“Fuck. That’s lame.”
“It’s super lame. But do you wanna press forward or lie here?”
I stand to my feet and prepare for the next leg of my journey.
<(c) Khoa Xuan Pham All rights reserved!