A figure stood on the very edge of a deep abyss, the figure was male, but not whole, this was just his essence, his soul, the shape of a man. The abyss was even less solid, except to the man, it had been created by his subconscious mind. An image conjured up to fill in the gaps between reality and that place down there. He could see it now as he looked down, past his booted feet, a glowing plain of verdant green. He had known as soon as he had arrived what it was, not the final resting place, just the next step on the long journey. Heaven some said, but not paradise, he knew that now. But she was there waiting, he knew that too.
He was alone of course, this being his own vision. He thought of other people in other visions, for some it would be walking towards the light, for others floating up to the clouds. All the clichèd stuff, but what else did people have to work on? They would all reach the plain eventually, regardless of the illusion navigated to get there. Of course for most there would be no choice, the timing already decided.
The toes of his boots hung over the edge, requiring only one small step on his part to send himself plunging to his destination. For what he assumed to be several hours the step hadn't been taken. A soft breeze had started blowing some time ago, but was now increasing in strength, becoming a howling wind. The wind was pushing at his back like strangers in a crowd, jostling him to get a move on. He had been so certain for so many years that this was what he wanted, but now he was here he didn't seem so sure.
The past 24 hours came to the front of his unconscious mind unbidden. Past reality saturated the dark sky, bleaching out the abyss with white kitchen tiles. Gleaming consumer goods and a polished wooden floor faded in from the sides. A large pine table sprouted from the ground, a matching chair pushed him off his feet.
Sitting at the kitchen table, he was trying to write a letter, the most important letter of his life to the two most important people in it. His last letter ever if his plan went as he expected. The cream paper glowed blank against the shiny varnished pine. Several similar sheets lay in a neat pile by his left hand, some with only a sentence or two, others almost complete. He knew what he had to say, it just came out sounding, well, pathetic really. How to explain to two young people that your life is not worth living? and had been so for the last twelve years. Twelve years since that terrible night.
Losing his wife had ripped his world into tatters, only their children had kept him alive then, only just at that, but it was what she would have wanted. Even though every day was a living hell, every hour to be endured, every minute a reminder of what had been. His children alone had brought the only comfort, a slight easing of the pain, a little warmth to the nerve ends. His daughter, so like her mother, and his son too, to a lesser degree, had been the locks on the door that led to oblivion. But now they no longer needed him. She was married to a man she loved, and he admired; his son had made a career for himself in the Army. They were off his hands now, soon he would be free of this yoke of pain he had carried for so long. But first there were several small details to attend to.
Looking down now he noticed his boots hung further over the edge than before and pretty soon he would fall. Something was trying to hold him back. As the thought formed in his subconscious mind he knew what it was. Someone was holding his hand, not this hand of course, this was just his own mind making sense of unreality. His other hand, his cast off skin back there in Life. Probably his daughter, though how she had got there so fast he didn't know.
- Copyright Steve Dean