Tomorrow We Dance To Freedom

The Short Reprieve

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Darkness was eternal down here beneath the surface in our caverns. A snug comfortable feeling blanketed us in complete satisfaction. Resting against the rocks we'd atrophied into immobile creatures destined to live out the remainder of our lives affixed to stone. Barely a spark of recognition registered on any of our immobile faces. In time the eyes would glaze over emitting this vacant stare absorbed in an emotional spasm.

Hissing from cracks in the rock was this sound of release - a numbing, tiring, continuous push from farther down. Listening to this steady gaseous eruption gradually dragged the soul from under its warped fence; we were all sinking deeper into oblivion.

Tearing at this level of unconsciousness was a strength-sapping struggle fought out until the hiss once again overpowered the will to survive. Jellified from inactivity it just wasn't feasible that any of us would ever escape this tomb. Where would we go? The heart would beat how many difficult compressions until it failed from the ever more terrible exertions. When the last beat was near would it be heard above the steady hiss?

A wisp of consciousness washed over me for a moment. Jumping wildly on the walls was a light coming from a bouncing body pounding vigorously against the rocks. It stopped, still, motionless, laying limp - the light pointed straight up. Hiss… Hiss… Hiss… Floating back, unable to respond, peaceful torpid sleep was dragging me beyond the need to breathe, why bother for it felt so natural just to stop.

Must have overcome the urge to cease my mortal fight to keep this organic shell functioning. Was that a rope in the corner hanging up above beyond my sight? Twisted in tightly wound knots consisting of far too many threads to contemplate - it's just easier to blank out. That hissing just keeps crowding out my thoughts until they float back to unconsciousness that moves me closer to the edge.

Why fight so vigorously, why move my thoughts when they come in fleeting glimpses beyond a foggy vision, why not just give in to the soft cushiony inviting quiet? This battle requires just too much exertion - easier to just drop off. So tiny is the spark of life ebbing slowly from my exhausted body that it dimly powers my unspoken prayers.

Hiss… Hiss… Hiss… No other sound can be heard in this totally pitch-black impenetrable crevice. Holding on, must hold on, but on to what? Confusion is now my company on this trip to oblivion - non-existence.

Yes, it is a trip to a quiet restful place that doesn't allow feelings to crowd out pure white nothingness.

Leaving my past experiences to seep slowly into the heavens my break from this mass of flesh laying prostate on this stony resting place is coming to pass. Beyond tears, emotion washed away along with my higher reasoning faculties; they no longer have any meaning. Would tears be an appropriate response to an ending when a beginning pushed me on this track towards a fleeting glimpse at wisdom? Rushing up in a flood of memories is a wonderful life with a multitude of brilliant sunny days, turbulent stormy trials at expression, loving glances, embraces, caresses, smiling faces of those long missed soon to be seen, successes, failures, but in short a deep, rich, colorful precious pool of memories.

Whispering… Whispering… Whispering… Is that a sound moving past the haze that is lifting imperceptibly? There's this rattle, a humming, a beep, beep, beep pulling me from perpetual stillness. Ripping through the silence is this horrifying scream - pulling at softness, a rush back to the critical now, the promise of experience being lifted to poignant memories, an eternal force that allows us to push, prod, strain, rush forward, break down barriers, make better, give, and love is returning. Coughing, struggling to breathe, my unfettered consciousness has returned.

Those gathered around my bed are wiping tears from their eyes. Near my bed is a doctor and two nurses placing the heart paddles back in there compartment. Still fairly tired but not mortally exhausted, just relishing the euphoria of being alive; must sleep now.

After being rolled out of ICU visitors stepped into my room to hold my hand for long minutes. Some even brought flowers; others would talk close to my ear. A few words were beginning to unravel into intelligible coherent pieces that helped answer the many questions racing about in my mind.

It seems that my life was hanging by a thread when I was pulled out of the mine. We hit a gas vein in the chamber that we'd been working. It exploded violently trapping us beneath tons of solid rock. Sealed off from the fresh air ventilation system the gas just kept pouring into the chamber. I was the only survivor - the rest of my friends and fellow miners died in the gaseous chamber. My recovery was deemed a miracle.

Leaving the hospital many weeks later on a clear, crisp, sunny, blue day, my feet cleared the curb. Preoccupied by the beauty caressing my shallow breaths the horn sounded loud in an instant. With my back once again prone to a solid surface my final realization was that there would be no rescue back to the poignant; these blurry images crowding over me would be my last fading pictures of a world worth living in no matter the challenges or hardships. Slipping out past daylight, moving beyond hope my future slipped away. This time my body would remain lifeless.

A small tear trickled down his sorrow torn face.