16. Alive

As I burst through the barrier that had hidden me in dreams for all my conscious existence, I gasped, as if it were my first breath of reality. It was cold, and I shivered.

I felt very much alive, as if I had never before been aware of living.

I looked up into the sky and it was so deep and dark, studded with a billion shining lights. I could not believe how beautiful it was.

There was a simple symphony of sound all around me. There was the water rising and falling, and the wind, breathing life.

I stared out through the net, lost in awe and wonder. Slowly I was lifted higher onto the boat, but I felt nothing about my predicament. My mind could think but one thought. "I am alive!"

As they lifted me into the boat, my attention continued to fixate on the intricate details of reality's craftsmanship. The gently rising and falling boat fascinated me. I was amazed at how old and weathered it looked, with its peeling, dingy, grey paint curling in strips and chunks.

My senses were ablaze with interpretation. I felt the hardness of the wood beneath my skin. I could sense the sensory impulses bursting through my neurons, and I shivered with the exploding chemical messages that brought my brain awareness. I could see each neurochemical impulse racing through my body, and I felt like my nervous system was a new car that I was trying for the first time; and I liked the way it felt.

Slowly, the radiant freshness began to subside. The world seemed to tone down, as if up to that moment everything had been bigger than life, as if I had been seeing it in a dream or in a movie.

Although my perception was subdued, it was all still terribly interesting. But everything seemed a little harsher, a little dimmer, a little duller, dirtier, smaller and most of all, I saw all the flaws in everything.

I stared up at the men. There were three of them. One was sitting near me. The other two were rowing. Their clothes were dirty rags that stuck to their bodies like muddy leaves. Their faces were lined and weathered and plagued by scars and imperfections. They were hunched forward, as if the weight of the whole world had pressed upon them for their entire lives.

I tried to make eye contact with them as I lay still, staring out through the net that they had fastened down, so that I could not have moved had I so desired. Their eyes were cold and cloudy, and only a tiny glisten of hope remained deep within. They knew I was staring at them, but they would not look at me. They trembled each time I looked their way.

"Please," the one closest to me begged. "We're only doing as we've been commanded. Do not blame us!" his grunting voice cracked.

His scab of a hand trembled as it leaned on the handle of a dagger sheathed in his belt. The other two rowed faster, eager to deliver me to their master so that I would no longer be in their care. They were mumbling vague prayers and obscenities, and they were so very afraid of me, but I could not remember why.



©: 1992-2015 Robert Alan Silverstein

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