|The Transformation Story Archive||The Visionary Saga|
Beginnings from Endings
She leaned for a long time against the ice cold steel girder. Her shoulder grew numb. Her feet felt damp and moist, the slightly melted snow seeping through her canvas shoes. She looked over the small canyon to the stream below. It was calm. The thin sheeting of ice had smoothed out all the ripples.
She knew from experience that the water was only a couple of feet deep though.
The pedestrian bridge was nearly fifty feet up.
She slowly removed her shoes and socks. She hung her jacket from a small protruding bolt. She patted the inner pocket. Her short note was still there.
She took a deep breath and climbed onto the low railing, steeling herself against the cold, a cold that wouldn't bother her in a moment.
A gentle voice came from the darkness, "Beth, don't."
She turned her head slightly to see the man slowly approaching. He was dressed in a black suit and overcoat, his head topped with a fedora. She looked at his face and felt a certain familiarity, though she didn't recognize him.
His gentle voice came once again from the darkness, "Don't"
"Please don't come closer.", she whispered. "This is something I have to do."
The old man leaned against a steel girder, "No. It isn't. Trust me."
She turned her head to him, at first wanting to be angry. Then she saw his eyes. She did trust him. "Look, mister, there is nothing left for me here. It's over."
"It is never over, Beth. Never. You will understand that someday."
She felt a tear roll down her cheek turn to ice in the frozen air. "You don't understand. He left me. He left me in front of all my friends."
"You're talking about Roland, of course." It was a statement, not a question.
She looked at him again. "He broke up with me in front of everyone! I can't go back there!"
The man looked at her intently, "It happens. That is no reason to end your life, a life with so much promise."
She looked back to the dark stream below. "You just don't understand."
In a voice more gentle, he said, "I understand more than you know."
Beth looked him in the eyes again. She could somehow see the heartache he had suffered, the pain he had endured. She could see the betrayal, the loss, the depression and the sadness. So many emotions, all dark.
Yet he survived.
"You're stronger than me.", she said weakly.
He shook his head, "Never. I am no stronger than anyone, including yourself."
"No one will miss me long..."
"What about Tyler? Cynthia? Ann? They are expecting you now, are they not?"
She though about her friends, all waiting for her at the diner downtown. They were going to meet to help cheer her up. They'd warned her about Roland, but she hadn't listened.
"What about Christopher? He's only six. Will he understand?"
She sobbed hard, once. Her little brother, who looked up to his big sister with undying love. What would they tell him about her?
But she couldn't go home again, not ever.
She sobbed some more, "There is nothing left for me back in that town! Everyone knows me! I can't got through life knowing they all talk about me behind my back about this!"
The man closed his eyes, "There is more in the universe than you know, Beth. A great deal more. You haven't even begun to realize your place in it yet."
"There is nothing in this universe for me."
The man opened his eyes again, a little less gentle now. "If you believe that, then jump. There really is nothing left for you."
She looked at him a little surprised for a moment, then turned back to the stream and released her grip on the railing.
She felt the icy air rip at her clothes as she fell. Her hair streamed behind her. She looked for a moment at the onrushing rocks, and closed her eyes.
Then she wasn't falling anymore. She felt the wind gather under her arms and her rate of decent slowed dramatically. She opened her eyes in shock to see the stream only about ten feet below, and she was traveling above it!
She turned her head and received an explanation, but certainly no answers. Her arms were wings. She felt tail feathers gently guiding her flight. She opened and closed her mouth to feel the beak of a bird of prey.
Her panic left her in an instant. ::I must be dead:: she though, ::and come back as a bird.::
She landed on a nearby branch, only to find the old man in the black suit waiting for her. He held out a hand, protected by a falconers glove, and she glided to it.
"There are more things in this universe than you know, Beth." He repeated.
And she was standing as human again.
She stumbled backwards into the tree. "Am I dreaming?"
The man produced a falcons flight feather, "No, you're not."
"Am I dead?"
She closed her eyes, afraid to ask the next question, "Are you God?"
The man smiled broadly, "No, I make no claims to be a deity. I'm just someone who can see the possibilities."
"Can you see the future?"
"I can see the possibilities.", he repeated.
"Can you tell me mine?"
"Only that yours did not involve this bridge tonight, or at least, they didn't end with it. They began with it."
She started crying again, "Can I be that falcon again?"
The man hugged her lightly across the shoulder. "Someday, perhaps. But not now. Be assured that you have a place in this universe, an integral place."
The man gauged her reaction with a practiced eye. He knew that she still had much to think about, much to get over. But there would be no suicide tonight.
He released her and produced her coat and shoes. "I think that you need these."
She took them gratefully. "What happens now?"
"You have friends waiting for you at the diner? I think that is a fine place to start."
She started to walk away from the man when she felt something in her pocket. She pulled it out and looked at it for a long moment, then turned and handed it to the old man.
"Thank you.", she said, and turned to meet her friends.
She turned to see the man holding out the falconers glove again. She glided to it.
"Go to the diner.", he said with a trace of a smile on his weathered face.
She leapt from his arm and flew above the treetops, feeling the cold wind through her feathers. She called out into the night, the eerie call of a falcon in flight.
She started to land at the diner, and found herself human again. She looked to the sky a moment and wondered if it was all a dream.
"Beth, hey! Where have you been? We were starting to worry about you!", called Cynthia from the doorway.
She walked through the doorway into the brightly lit diner and hugged her friend.
"Hey, cool feathers! Where'd you get them?"
Beth looked down to the feathered pendant hanging around her neck, a pendant she had never seen before, decorated with falcon feathers. She smiled slightly as she touched it, "I got them from a friend."
She never told her companions what happened to her.
Her friend still stood on that snow covered stream bank holding the letter. He looked at the cream colored envelope for a moment and it vanished from sight. He picked up the tail feather from the ground and looked at it a moment. He slipped off his fedora and slid it into the hat band next to the white doves feather.
He heard a distant cry for help and vanished himself.
Beginnings from Endings copyright 1996 by Brian Eirik Coe.
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