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Going Back

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Fog shrouded the island. Thick white haze, like a large wet blanket was pulled over the entire chunk of land. He wasn’t afraid; he knew he would eventually be back. Life had to go on even if he didn’t. To him it seemed like years since he was on the island, but it didn’t matter. Time wouldn’t move without him. It waited for him to come back. Days, weeks, months—time would hold for as long as it had to. Like a worried father waiting up impatiently at the table for his little girl to come home from her first date, when he stepped back on the island, time would be there to greet him.

He lingered on the shore, not quite sure how he arrived here, but not too shocked that he did. Just moments ago he was twelve years old, getting his first kiss from a small older blonde girl named Melinda behind North High Middle School’s gym. They cut their fourth-period class together and holed up in the cafeteria not caring about what they missed in class. Then the cafeteria was gone and he was at his high school graduation party at Disneyland. The girl of his dreams was holding his hand and pulling him towards the line for the Doomsday Drop. The fear came flooding back as he looked up and saw the current riders plunging quickly towards the ground. He didn’t want to ride but wasn’t willing to let go of her hand.

Time seemed to fly by; he bounced from moment to moment. Times and places started to blur together faster than he could register them. He was there when he met his wife for the first time. She was watching a softball game he was playing in for a co-ed work league. He twisted his ankle and she brought him over some ice. He saw the look in her eyes as he struggled to find something to say that would make him seem interesting and nice. Instead, his mind drew a blank and he stuttered and sounded like an idiot. She smiled anyway and he didn’t care. Now he was here again, standing on the shore knowing he was supposed to follow the dirt path that cut its way through the tropical trees and made its way deeper into the heart of the island. He stayed back and watched his small boat come closer to the sandy shore from the much larger research vessel anchored in the sea close by. He saw himself, eyes wide with possibility, a smile of hope and the sense that just around the corner could lay the discovery of a lifetime.

He watched as he climbed out of the boat and took in the lush foliage of the thick jungle trees. He closed his eyes and breathed in the air. He remembered the smell, a refreshing mixture of sea salt and fresh sand. He knew he couldn’t wait any longer. He saw himself head down the dirt path lugging his huge equipment pack behind him and calling back to his assistant to keep up. Still standing on the shore alone, he watched them fade off into the jungle. He took one last long look at the beautiful ocean wanting to take in as much as he could. Miles and miles of water cut abruptly short by the thick veil of fog. As he looked on the fog seemed to solidify, trapping him on the island like a cage. There was no more going back for him. He could only follow them down the path into the jungle where time waited for him.

He remembered how the first time the walk through the jungle seemed to take hours, but once he started on the path he was already at the top of the cliffs. He watched as high above his head, he was hugging the rocky cliff’s face as he tried to skirt the lip of the rock wall. Trying to go higher and further than anyone else before him. Putting in the effort he knew a new discovery would cost. He knew his right foot would slip and for a second he would teeter on the edge before he would pull himself roughly against the unforgiving surface. He reached up unconsciously trying to feel for the gash that would open up when his head hits the rocky cliff wall.

After that he didn’t have to see anymore. He knew what was going to happen. He watched as he pushed on, ignoring the pain and wiping the blood off his face with his hand. He was so determined. He watched until he could no longer see himself climbing the slick rock wall. It didn’t matter anymore, he knew where he would end up. All alone on the cliff he slowly walked out towards the edge, trying to be careful. He peered directly over the lip. He wasn’t shocked to see his mangled body broken and crushed against the sharp rocks beneath him. Time caught up to him. There was nothing he could do. He let go and joined back with his body, back where he was supposed to be. The pain never came. Just a dull numbness where it should have been. He knew he was dying. The blood on his hand made the rocks too slippery and he couldn’t hold on. He should have gone back, but he was too far up, too close to the top. A million thoughts rushed through his head as he fell. Memories and dates he held dear, people and places he hoped to remember. It seemed to last forever, but time wouldn’t wait for him any longer.

He didn’t try to move, his eyes were closed but with the last ounce of strength he had, he pried them open. The sky above him was more beautiful than he had ever seen it. The crystal blues were like an endless ocean waiting for him on a hot day. The sun grew larger and brighter as he waited for what came next. It grew and grew until it was all he saw. Just one large white light in front of him, waiting for him. His eyes were too heavy to keep open but the light didn’t go away. At last, he couldn’t hold on any longer, his eyes shut for the last time and he slipped away. He twisted his ankle. A beautiful young girl with brown hair and amazingly soft brown eyes stood up and walked over to him holding a bag of ice. He knew he wouldn’t know what to say but he had to try. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her. He hoped this time would never end…

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