The Walker (Short Story)

I’m walking along a barren road at sunset. All around me are hills and fields cast in a golden light. A mangled corpse of what was once a man lies beside the road. Crows land and pick at his intestines. I am glad.

A crowd of people gather around the body. They are dressed in traditional, 19th century clothing. They must all belong to a nearby Amish farm, I am thinking. They are crying, on their knees, praying to the Lord above. A woman approaches me and, noticing that I am not praying, nor shedding tears, asks if I am at least feeling compassion for this poor, murdered man.

“No,” I said. “He was my enemy and I am glad that he is dead!”

Tears stream down her ruddy cheeks. She adjusts her white bonnet, falls to her knees, and, lips quivering, folds her hands in prayer. I continue walking down the road, with the horses and carriages sitting off to the side. A cold wind whines through the trees, past the field, and chills my cheeks. I give a last look back, peering at the bloody carrion that was once a human being. I wonder why I had such hatred for this man, this man I never knew. What exactly had happened to him? Who had struck him and then carried on as if nothing mattered? Who could do that?

Then I knew. It was me. I was the man who had struck him, who had nodded frankly at the supposed rightfulness of his death, and who had continued on, meaninglessly, down this road.

This dreadful road, called Samsara, I am still walking. The sun sets eternally, but never sets. I am walking down this narrow way, this dire path of forever.

I become mindful of my each step, and I think, what if I did fall to my knees? What if I did fold my hands, and, like an idiot, prayed to the empty yellow sky above? What if I did? And what of it?

My heart began to palpitate, and, with my whole body shaking in ecstasy, I walked back to the grim scene of prayer. I knelt down beside the people, my people, and I wept, wept, wept.

My tears ran off my cheeks and cascaded down upon my folded hands. I murmured sweet offerings, tender protections, and compassions.

The people’s hands all fell to their knees and they turned to me, slowly. And in their teary eyes I saw not sorrow, not grief, not compassion, but joy – pure, sweet, and eternal joy. I became overjoyed with bliss.

The golden evening light suddenly faded and turned dark. The bright, fiery stars burned in the heavens and I knew that we, all of us, are golden. We are bright, we are stars burning like holy torches in an eternity of dark, and we, too, as much as Hell, can be of Heaven.

If we choose.

 

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