Sometimes at work my mind wanders and I scribble things on a pad of paper.
The man who was no longer a man floated above his body. Rising slowly. He willed himself to slow his ascent to a crawl, then tilted his head and looked around and down. The body didn’t move. His body. Couldn’t move. It had had a heart attack and wouldn’t move again until scavengers came to nibble on it. Nudging an arm or tugging on an ear.
The body lay slumped against a forest-green hiking pack resting in a rustling sun-warmed field surrounded on three sides by towering rock spires. Shadows crept across the field.
Perspiration dried on the body’s forehead above eyes that squinted in a way that, given the circumstances, suggested a grimace. The man who was no longer a man appraised the face and knew differently. Not a grimace, a smile. The remnants of a squinting smile on a face that moments before had been whispering “thank you, thank you, thank you,” as tears trickled from the squinting eyes.
The man who was no longer a man gave pause to that smile and felt something sparkle and warm inside of him. How many times had he shared adventure and laughter with that smile?
He also felt a tug. Gentle at first and then with more insistence. He began to rise quickly again. The man who was no longer a man tried to will himself to slow again, but this time he was unable. “No. Please. Not yet. Just a few more minutes. Please. Please! It’s mine! I owe…” But he was now rushing past the rock spires, his body below fading to a speck, merging with a sea of green.
And suddenly the world was full of mountain tops and endless blue and the man who was no longer a man began to giggle. He tried to flap imaginary wings. Tried to swoop and glide as he had imagined and dreamed as a kid. And then he let loose a great rolling laugh because he had never seen a dog fly before. And there was a dog. Floating along next to him, spinning in circles and throwing up her paws. His dog! He reached out to her as they punched through the clouds together and she nuzzled up against him, licking his face.
And then he heard clapping and his friends and family were around him. Smiling, cheering, welcoming. He closed his eyes and the clapping intensified and swelled until he could feel it rushing through him. Around him. Lifting him up. Lifting him up. Tumbling him.
He opened his eyes and cringed into the stinging salt water. The sea roared around him, pitching him forward end over end, bouncing him against the sand. Popping to the surface he sputtered a bit, but the rolling laugh returned. He threw his head back and laughed to the sky, the sun, the swooping seagulls. There was a tug at his ankle and he reached back to reel in the tethered surfboard. Scrambling onto the board, he whispered “thank you” then began paddling in to where he knew his dog would be waiting for him in the shallows and his friends would already be laughing around a fire.