One Step

It happens that I am tired of being the man that I am. Tree branches bend in conspiracy toward each other when I pass by; the moon keeps telling me what to do. Is there no place for me to be King? Even inside my skin the rivers are rough, and unpredictable. At every synapse someone is pushing an agenda. I am tired of it all: my skull, the sound of my voice, what I am always asking for. I am sick of sleeping through the same mysteries at night.

When it finally became unbearable I knew what I had to do. At the edge of the forest, there were two ways to go: forawrd, or back the path I had taken. The woods were dark even in the middle of the day -- even on a Wednesday -- like a black hole letting out only the scent of sap and pine into the high, clear air. Somewhere, from under the earth, I could hear my mother saying No; I heard my father stomp his foot. My teacher assured me there were other factors -- love, work -- and urged me to reconsider. I shut my eyes and listened hard to the heart beating in my chest. Faintly, very faintly, I began to hear a voice which I did not recognize coming up between the beats; and though the words it spoke were nonsense I began to understand and did the only thing I could do: I took the only step I could make, which is off the path, which is into the darkest part of the wood -- that is to say, away from life and into the arms of time, waiting, waiting to make me perfect, before I die.


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