He ran, blood thrumming through his veins, stomach churning, sweat permeating every inch of his clothing.
It was only when he’d reached the edge of the world, the vast black nothingness of the ocean stretched out as far as the eye could see, illuminated by the slumbering sun further down the horizon, that the underlying guilt decided to dawn on him with a sudden gush of vitriol, searing away at his conscience. The adrenaline rush kicked in, the thought of avoiding being caught incongruous and alluring at the same time.
And as the mind does when it is given a moment of brief tranquillity after a tempestuous storm, the boy’s mind began to race frantically as the reality of his wicked, heinous deed finally settled in. A tempestuous whorl of images engulfed all of his memory— crimson blossoming on a white shirt, shards of his father’s well-loved bottles of beer, and a primal urge forcing him to run, run as his mother caterwauled, echoing in great awful gouts of animalistic howls which resounded throughout the woods.
His heart began to pound faster, but not from the exertion of bolting blindly into the void of the unknown. It was something unfathomable, something awful, glorious and terrible simultaneously. An incomprehensible thought sent a reprehensible thrill through his trembling body; his fists clenched around his chest, and the air that entered his lungs wasn’t enough, never enough. He gasped, the strained rasping filled the dark air. He fought to hold his tears back but they came, and he lost sense of himself and the world turned blurry— And at that moment, he feared Death stretching, his skeletal appendages reaching out to him, the everlasting, ubiquitous presence wrapping around his throat, pulling him over to the bottomless schism. Amidst the panicked fear and grasping for something, anything, a single coherent thought emerged from his cacophony of voices and sounds—
I want to live.
His father’s lifeless body lay strewn in front of him. His fault.
But the blood-stained blade that lay in the old man’s limp, cold grasp would have turned on him, and he himself would have been the lifeless body spread out on the wooden planks.
He wanted to live.
An eye for an eye. His father’s life for his own.
And he was the one who lived.
What now, his mind wailed. What will you do?
The day broke, rays of divine warmth bursting out from the horizon. The sky was flooded with a myriad of hues, rife with the essence of universal, life-giving energy. The Earth, clad in a diaphanous dress the colour of burning gold, rose to meet the occasion, and all that dwelled in the vicinity rose with Her. She breathed out the morning mist, fresh and sweet, and he gulped it all in, drinking in the very essence of existence itself. She danced, fingers brushing his hair and bare feet sweeping over the soft caress of the grass below, losing herself in the wondrous ecstasy of beauty, and freedom. His sporadically beating heart heard the tempo of life, and of liberation; chose to follow it blindly, gladly. He spread his arms out in a moment of hazy deliriousness once he caught his breath.
Everything, in that moment, became clear to him. The day’s first light glinted off the waves in the distance, scintillating in the autumn chill, and he was untrammelled, unfettered by shackles he had ignored for too long. He could see, and feel, and he was. The overpowering allure of just being and breathing submerged him in warmth, and he looked up at it with revere. He would rise with the sun and fall with the moon, and live as the seasons passed him by, until nature came to reclaim him, and he would become one with her.
That revelation, in itself, was enough to make him tilt his head back and crow with victory.
We are, each of us, bound to the cosmos, through an intricate lattice of imperceptible energy. Individuality is nought but a fabrication of the human mind, for we are one. He was a mere sacrifice, a willing participant in an act which would see his frail, mortal body cease to function. He had given all, and he had gained all. And that set him free— together in unity.
The concept of liberation within the tragedy of death was inspired largely by Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour.
The borderline nihilism and the belief of each of us being bound together by a ‘universal energy’ is a Buddhist belief— introduced to me by Netflix’s The Midnight Gospel (which in turn uses audio files from the podcast The Duncan Trussell Family Hour).