The river stretched out before me,
elven and expanseless.
I faced my opponent without fear or trembling,
my enthusiasm to succeed a far cry beyond healthy trepidation.
I dove headlong into the icy, brackish waters,
brazen and breathless,
determined to reach the far shore before first light.
I did not consider the confusion that would ensue.
The air was forced from my lungs, leaving me hollow,
hagridden and hapless.
I could feel my panic mounting as I pressed onward,
its thin fingers winding around my heart and clawing up my throat.
My vision began to dim, the world around me growing dark,
laden and lightless.
My teeth chattered, my muscles seized.
I could feel my flesh begin to convulse
as I was suddenly watching myself from above.
“Heartbroken and helpless,”
were the only words I could muster as I watched my struggle.
I was taking in too much water but could do nothing about it.
I’d strayed too far from shore and found myself stranded.
Misbegotten and meaningless.
That is what my death would be,
its story going unuttered and avoided,
the lips of my loved ones never being tainted by its recounting.
Panic-stricken and powerless,
I didn’t have the strength to keep swimming.
My arms and legs and chest burned with exhaustion.
I could no longer even see the far shore glittering in the distance.
Even and emotionless,
I allowed my limbs to go limp and my lungs to languish.
I slipped below the waves and let the weight begin to crush me.
I did this to myself.
Laden and lifeless;
I’d breathed my last, my cause of death an uncalculated gumption.
I took the leap with uninhibited lust for the journey ahead,
failing to count the cost or acknowledge the danger.
Misshapen and motionless,
my corpse danced beneath the surface, bobbing and swaying with the current,
cursed to float downstream for an endless eternity.
I’d done this to myself.
War-ridden and wordless,
my spirit writhed in agony.
If only I’d fought a little harder, been a little smarter, held on a little longer…
Maybe it wouldn’t have ended like this. Maybe then I would have made it to shore.
A bend in the river gently curved before me.
Craven and colorless,
my corpse glided silently along the glassy surface of the water,
a sojourner doomed to serve the current as my unforgiving master,
drifting outside the realm of season and time.
Ashen and aimless,
the waves lapped insistently against my face and arms,
bidding my lifeless form to arise,
reminding me that I did not control them, for they owned me.
Oaken and offenseless,
I heard a voice whisper through the trees and along the river’s surface,
breaking the deafening silence of death
and causing the forest to thrum in tense anticipation.
Beholden and boundless
the motion of the river suddenly broke,
releasing my limp body from its eternal clutches,
expelling me from its unquestionable cycle.
Frozen and futureless,
my corpse moved toward the shore as if propelled by some unseen force,
my hair and clothes being tugged at by the low-hanging arms of willow trees,
drawing me closer to my destination.
Sudden and seamless
the still small voice came again,
beckoning me by name to breathe,
to return to the land of the living and carry on undaunted.
Awe-stricken and angstless,
I gasped as air was sucked into my lungs, a spear of Life driven into my chest.
I trembled as my hands gripped the earth,
feeling it move through my pallid fingers for the first time.
Golden and groundless,
I heard the voice once again,
inviting me into abundance and life,
promising me everything I’d died without knowing.
Forgiven and fearless
I stood up, the last vestiges of my grave dripping from my clothes.
I felt the world solid beneath my feet as I followed the voice of my Master.
My deathbed behind me, I did not look back.