Sunday, July 12, 2009

The long fall

Pin It July 6, 10:47 P.M.

It was a heinous night, one more so than usual; I just had to be not here.

I slipped from the house and soon I found myself walking along the railroad tracks down at Lake Pend Oreille.

The rails stretched across the shadowy waters, glinting in the moonlight and vanishing into the pine trees nearly a mile off on the distant shoreline.

I began to walk the ties of the bridge, the smell of creosote filling my nostrils along with the thick sultriness of humidity in the air.

The angry lake crashed and splayed below me, as the choppy wind buffeted me from time to time.

My head was a flurry of thought, much like that wind as it carried me along with it.


There were so many questions.

Overhead the orange harvest moon moved slowly from behind the clouds; we gazed at each other across that vast space which separated us.

The distance seemed like a million miles; maybe more.

To be honest, I’d been feeling that same distance with God, too. He and I seemed to be worlds apart, neither one of us seeming to understand the other.

As I walked, I thought longingly of my headphones back at my car, I wished that I had them; had them to drown out the turbulent sounds which continued to moil through me like that tempestuous blast.

I wanted to play what had unofficially become the soundtrack of my life as of late, their lyrics tumbling about my head even as I traversed footfall after footfall.

“…the long fall back to earth is the hardest part...”

At the quarter mark of the bridge I stopped. Here was a spot to stand and look over the lake. I found myself sitting against the handrail as the waves lapped hungrily at the trestle supports some thirty feet below. Out across the water I watched the distant headlights of cars on the long bridge as they came and went in a flurry of tail lights—each headed to destinations unknown.

In the moment I petitioned the heavens, like I had so many times before.


There were so many questions.

The trestle started to vibrate slightly; in looking back at the direction of the city, I saw one bright light hastening toward me.

It was a train.

There was nowhere to go. There was nowhere to run.

Was I afraid?

I was terrified.

I sat at my perch above the water, four feet from the tracks as the thundering locomotive drew nearer. Moments later it was upon me, screaming as it passed in a flurry of whatever heavy cargo it carried. The sound was deafening. The wind buffeted me. I stood, letting the fear consume—let it fill me to overflowing—terror bristling through every tendon and nerve.

Let it be gone.

As suddenly as the fear had overtaken me, it ebbed away.

For several minutes the boxcars kept coming, sparking and groaning on their silver wheels until there was nothing.

The train had passed, the shaking of the long bridge ceased, and the night took on its usual stillness...the last sounds of the locomotive vanishing into distant obscurity.

The wind blew, the waves lapped, I stood.

The moon was swallowed behind a cloud.

I walked back the way I had come, my head still a storm of questions.

I had no answers.

But I wasn’t afraid.


The Scotts said...


Kris said...

You have plenty of people that will catch you.

Anonymous said...

You're an inspiration to us all as you lay yourself bare like this, T4, and work through all of this. It's difficult to hold nothing in reserve.

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