At The Top Of The World

I stood at the bottom of an enormous, rocky hill, marveling at the steepness. I could have walked away, but I was drawn to it from the depths of my core. So I took a step onto the incline. My foot landed on a piece of jagged stone whose edge sliced into my skin with ease. I painted the rocks vermillion. It may have been the most difficult steps I’d ever taken, but still I had to persevere. I took another step, landing once again onto another pointed fragment that jutted into more than my flesh. More blood shed down the mountain’s face, tears welling in my eyes. I pushed them back and took another step. And another. And another. With each stride I felt the pain grow worse, but never once did I falter.
    There came a point as I continued on that I was no longer alone. A small bird flitted near my head, it sang sweet music in my ear. I smiled at its efforts. As I took each step and left a trail of myself in my wake, the bird’s song grew louder. It hovered over my shoulder and whispered promises to me, swearing that it would be alright once I reached the summit. I listened to the songbird’s voice and let it lift me up. Each step I took cut like the first and stung like all the last, but I felt deep inside my soul that it would  serve my purpose.
    I looked up the sheer face of the hill and I saw a figure at the top. My brother stood there grinning at me like he always had. I grinned back. I walked faster up the mountain, my feet were gaping wounds of red suffering and the small bird cried louder than ever before until I soon was at the top. My brother wasn’t there to greet me. All that sat at the top of the enormous monstrosity was a square box with a screen on the top. The numbers on it read “00:00:00.” I picked up the timer with shaking hands and stared at the green numbers. My body quaked so violently that the box tumbled out of my frozen hands and landed with the numbers facing the cold stone. The bird hung by my ear and sang a cheerful tune.
    My hand moved so suddenly that I wasn’t even sure that I’d done it until I saw the little songbird in my palm. I’d grabbed it from my side and had begun holding it tightly in my hands.  Too tightly. There had been nothing more that I’d wanted than to rip the wings off of its little frame so as it would never be able to fly again. It had sworn that the top of the mountain would hold promise for me. I was supposed to be better. The bird laid still in my hands, not even a slight tremor to give away its fear. I looked down on its peaceful body as it waited patiently for me to mangle it and I exhaled. Being angry and wanting to damage the beautiful bird would not make me whole. I placed the songbird on my shoulder and picked up the little gray box. I put the metal to my chest, closed my eyes, and breathed in the fresh air.
    The bird hovered up to my ear once more and sang for me a hopeful song. Hope. I opened my eyes and noticed for the first time that there had been a little bench with me at the summit. Still clutching the box to my heart, I ambled over and sat down. Only then did I see. When I looked out from the hilltop, I saw everything all at once. The sky was thick with puffy white clusters that glided lazily past a rainbow. There was a stream with rolling rapids and little miracles of waterfalls that ran through a tranquil meadow. Children sat down by the water and splashed each other’s faces. They laughed louder and longer than I ever had. The songbird sighed with reverie and soared towards the clouds and for the first time in such a long, long time I smiled. I would be okay.

The End

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