My cramped fingers finally lose their hold on the porous rock. My heart hurdles into my throat. I gasp, arms pin-wheeling, flailing, searching for something, anything but air — there! A pine bough. Needles slip through my grip in little bursts of sticky sap that pierce the arctic air with a spicy fragrance.
I grasp at the empty sky. A startled flock flies above me, taunting me with their wings like angels leering down at the damned soul that was pushed over the Pit’s edge. The water catches me like a sheet of pristine glass shattering with my body. The cold. It steals what little breath I’d gasped, stabs me like a thousand needles — not the bits of pine I’d taken with me, but the glass shards driving deep into my bones, the slivers that paralyze my muscles instantly.
I clutch for the rocks, the pines, even the air this time. Only water. I wish I’d known to gasp harder, deeper, to fill my lungs before the plunge.
The bubbles trickle out from my nose. My lungs are stretching, tearing; they finally break in a rush of bubbles racing each other to the top, laughing all the way to the surface, just beyond the reach of my frozen fingertips.
I know I shouldn’t. I know what it will mean. But I can’t help it; I breathe in the needles. My body seizes in rejection, coughs the last of the bubbles, gasps again. The cold fills me inside and out, so numbing I feel as if I’ve been wrapped in a blanket. My muscles jerk, one final effort to keep living, but my heart has been slowly dying ever since it started beating, anyway.
Above me, the bubbles break across the kaleidoscope of clouds and blue sky framed by the watching pines.
I was scared. Now, I’m just sleepy. Calm. Death welcomes me to its bed. Dying, I don’t regret. We all have to do it. What I do regret is dying with untold stories.
*** All works are fiction. The events, characters, and narrator(s) in flash fiction pieces are not intended to accurately portray any real persons, living or dead. ***