Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Miracle of Life
By: Amelia Rose

Lost. Frozen, trapped and alone. Trapped on a blank plain of desert and ice. Snow. Four feet deep wars against my aching body. Soaks me to the bone. And then freezes. I tremble; I cannot cry, for the air—it is too cold and it will freeze my tears. So I tremble. Alone—Isolated in this world of artic chill, I tremble. The harsh environment sucks the life away from me with its merciless, magnetic pull. Just like it has sucked all other life away.
Icy clouds loom; the sky, bleak and grim as the world around me, reproves my foolishness; Laughs me to scorn. It caresses my face with a cold, chaffing wind—just to prove its point.
Each step is harder, as it breaks through the ice. As I kick and push and tear my way through. Wandering—no searching. For something—anything. There is no sign of life anywhere. There is only me; me and a vast sheet—three dimensional—of white.
I come upon a tree, but even this brings no comfort. The tree is bare and not only that; it is frozen solid. Three inches of ice fit around each branch like a glove. Crystals; icicles hang in wicked grandeur; not even glinting—for there is no sun; No light to make sparkle.
And yet, there is a certain deathly magnificence about it all. For it is Beautiful. But it is a killer beauty. It has slaughtered the world around me; invaded and covered it with its sleek sheet of white varnish. It will kill me too. Soon enough.
Darkness replaces the bleakness of the sky, lowering the temperature by thirty degrees. Exhausted. Frozen. Chaffed and blistered, I dig a hole in the layered snow. Perhaps it will blanket me enough to keep my heart beating for the night; perhaps I am digging my own grave. Who can tell?
No one, I weep in tearless, bitter sobs and answer my own question. No one can tell—because there is no one else around. How I long for someone to cling to! Any sign of warmth—of life! But my heart is the only pulsing, moving entity for miles around. And there is the possibility that tomorrow not even this will be true.
Fatigued and weary I can take no more. I leave my fate in the hands of God and sink down into a troubled, restless, frigid sleep.

I dream. I dream of another heart, close to mine. Beating. Pulsing. Moving. Circulating blood and with it warmth and life; light to this bleak landscape; hope. The man to whom the heart belongs finds me; saves me from a cold and inevitable death. He is not handsome. Most people would call him plain, ordinary—but to me, he is beautiful. He possesses the beauty that is only noticed when one is placed in such treacherous conditions as I am in. A beauty that, once noticed, is never, ever forgotten. This is the beauty of life. Of another heart. Of another creation that can produce its own warmth. It is the beauty of a soul. The reason people love their pets—because they too have hearts—they too have a certain kinetic energy that enables them to move—and survive. Moreover, it is why people love each other. It is what has kept the world spinning for as long as it has. It is the beauty of love.
The beauty the man in my dream possesses is not uniquely his. It belongs to all creatures; more specifically, to all humans. For each human is alive, just as you are, just as I am. Every human has feelings; emotions; desires. Dreams, hopes, fears. And every human possesses a certain amount of strength within himself. Some more than others.
Sometimes we do not see this. We do not see the magnificence or feel its magnitude. We let other things; superficial things like money and appearances, pride and stereotypes get in the way. But deep underneath it all, at the core of every human being, is something greater…it is a heart.

I wake with a start to the same scene as yesterday. It is still early morning—the sky has not yet paled (for I can never say lightened). My joints are stiff and cold to the point where I cannot move. I must wait for my blood to thaw my bones. The pain throbs. The blisters and chaffing from yesterday remind me sharply of their presence, as my body thaws and feeling returns in painful, agonizing bursts.
But I am alive.
Alive for one more day. Time passes slowly, but eventually I am thawed enough to move and start my trek again. With new vigor I press forward, wading my way through the ice and snow. Refreshed and revitalized, my heart works hard to get blood pumping and energy flowing into my veins.
Adrenaline kicks in and aids me in my quest for life. I do not even notice the pain as I work through the morning. I feel—happy. I am making great progress in my journey. I think I can even see a little hint of sunlight behind the dense wall of clouds that pile above me. I feel like I could go on forever. Or at least until I can find the closest village.
After several hours, hunger sets in. My fierce adrenaline rush from the morning has long since left me. Weary, but not discouraged, I stop for nourishment. I open my bag to find that I only have one energy bar left of my entire food supply. I do not let myself think about this as I eat it and move on.
I stand up; but a great gust of wind knocks me right back down. I sigh and stand up again, a little more cautiously. I begin moving—as long as I can move I will stay alive. Just keep moving, I tell myself. Just keep going.
I make it about a mile before a sharp pain in my heel stops me in my tracks. I look down and can see blood staining the inside of my boots. Even if I had something to wrap it with, the blood would freeze as soon as I took off my boot. It would render my foot useless. I ignore the pain and keep going.
But it does not take long for me to falter, once again, as a great gust of snow blows up in a flurry. The particles dance in the air around me like fairies taunting their mistress. More pain erupts and my determination vanishes. The wintry wonderland sucks the life right from me. I sink to my knees—which sends painful pricks through my legs—and cry out in despair. It is a long, terrible wail which scathes my vocal cords, but I do not care. I push the air through my lungs and continue my release. No one hears it. It does not even echo.
I am alone.
I crumple in a weary heap.
I am alone.
Pain envelopes me. Fatigue corrodes my strength and spirit. My mind has been pushed to its limits. I have fought and fought and fought the elements. But they have won. With no food, no strength, no hope of survival, I give up and wait for me to die.
Perhaps, I think, death will not be so bad. It will be a relief actually, from stress, from hunger, from pain. From cold. And perhaps life does not end with death—there’s more to it than that. I know there’s got to be more. Everyone dies, sooner or later. Death is an inevitable part of life; of eternity. Death, I decide, is not a bad thing. It is good. It will bring me rest.
Hours pass. I cannot move, nor would I, even if I could. At first I was angry with death. Angry that it did not come and take me sooner. The elements had me! They knew it—I knew it. They might as well take me and get it over with. But as I lay there gazing up into the pale, gray sky my anger dissipated. Death would come soon enough, but it did not seem in too much of a hurry—so why should I be? With this thought, I have been contenting myself by gazing at the sky.
There are no distinct pictures made by the clouds—it is one solid sheet of icy vapor—but this does not stop my imagination. I imagine the clouds are a mist—such that would surround a castle. It is a grand castle, surrounded by a moat with water serpents that protect it. A tall, mahogany drawbridge stands proud and erect, only lowered when a visitor approaches or on days of celebration. On these days, great colorful flags are hoisted and around the grounds booths and games are set up for entertainment. The court jester and his company perform a play for the royal audience for which they receive many compliments and congratulations. The royal chef displays his finest selection of gourmet for the guests and the young princess enjoys a candied apple as a treat.
Today, however, is not one of those days. Right now it is early—so early the cock has not yet crowed. The early morning mist that surrounds my castle brings to it a quiet, peaceful atmosphere. Within the castle the king and his servants are still asleep. Only a stable boy, of about fourteen years of age, who sleeps in the barn and takes care of the horses, is awake. He is the first to arise and begin tending to his daily chores within the high castle walls. In another part of the castle the fair princess, a maiden of about ten years, cannot sleep. She lights a candle and wanders into the misty courtyard. In several years a series of events will unite the two young ones and they will fall in love. They will pursue a secret romance that will revolutionize how the king and his subjects think. They will, with their love, change the world.
But not today. Today they will just go about their stations naturally. Today the princess will remain in the misty courtyard and the stable boy will take care of the horses in peace.
A noise in the distance disturbs my daydream. I cannot tell what it is; nor do I bother to try and find out. I no longer have the will to care as I lay and wait for death to take me. It reminds me of a bark; of a dog, but I cannot tell.
Perhaps my princess in the clouds has a dog. That’s it—I remember now. She has a dog who followed her into the courtyard mist. The noise wasn’t a noise at all. It was just my imagination too.
I grow tired. Very tired. Tired of thinking, tired of daydreaming, tired of waiting to die—death can be very annoying when it wants to be. The tiredness weighs upon my eyelids and I do not fight it. They gently drift downward until my eyes are completely closed. Perhaps I will die in my sleep. That would be nice.
Once again I dream. But this dream is not as nice as the one from last night. In this dream my face is burning. Humid heat melts the frozen layer of oils that have chapped my skin. Little needles prick and stab every exposed layer of flesh. I cry out in panic. Am I dead?! Is this what hell feels like?! Fear envelops me and I scream. The hellfire is spreading to my hands and fingertips. It nudges me and puts unwanted pressure on my blisters and bruises. Once again I feel it intensify on my face—but this time I notice a little that the hellfire is soft; painful, but soft—and at times a little slimy.
I open my eyes and come face to face with Satan himself. He is a lot uglier than I expected—he has a very hairy face and a long jaw. His eyes are very dark—almost black holes in his face. I quickly close my eyes so I don’t have to look at him anymore. And I realize—something isn’t right. He’s not—evil enough. Satan’s presence should give off an aura of dread, hate and fear—right? I should be cowering in fright, convulsing in spasms—something? Right?
Instead, I feel something else…I can’t exactly tell what it is…but it’s definitely not pure evil invading my soul. It’s soft and fuzzy—and warm. Confused, I take a deep breath and open my still-burning eyes. I see white. Lots of white. I turn myself a little; roll from my back to my stomach to see what else is around, but that’s it. Just a whole lot of white. Heaven?
And then the cold hits me.
Nope, I think, definitely earth. I turn my head to see what’s to my right, and Satan comes back into view—but I now see that it’s just a dog—a nice husky rushing back to my side. I chuckle at myself for ever being afraid. I look past the husky, wanting to see the pretty whiteness everywhere, but something dark, black, and looming blocks my view. I become a little perturbed. The something is quite a ways off, but it is still an annoyer of my perfect view. It moves closer toward me and I realize that the something I am perturbed with is not a something at all—it is a somebody!
The husky demands my attention by snuggling up to me, keeping itself warm. And that’s when it hits me! The husky’s not using me to keep itself warm—it’s using its own body heat to keep me warm! I feel the dog’s heart beat furiously against my own—its warmth quickly spreading to me; making my heart pound. Hope surges in me. I attempt to move my muscles—and it works! They ache from frozen disuse, but they move!
I stop thinking and just feel. Just feel the life and warmth of the dog spread to me. It’s interesting how when it goes to me, it doesn’t leave him—rather when it reaches me it doubles in strength and then gets sent back to him where it doubles again. It continues to grows exponentially until something stops this continual exchange of warmth. When the warmth stops flowing, I open my eyes to see what caused it to stop.
When I open my eyes, I see that the man from my dream is standing above me. Off to the side there are several more dogs and a sled. He kneels down and embraces me tightly for a moment, then picks my frigid body up and carries me to the sled.
He holds me tightly; there is a gentleness is his embrace which keeps me calm. I feel his heartbeat too. It is much calmer than the dog’s. Much steadier. It keeps me calm. Nevertheless my heart beats wildly in glad expostulation.
I am saved. I am no longer alone!
I am not alone.
The frigid landscape reels back in agitation. The wind whips the snow in a chaotic manner. What few trees there are bend back in icy fury. The sky darkens in fierce rage. The elements will not lose their victim! And yet, they already have.
I am not alone.
I ignore the weather around me. The man’s heart is so close to mine. We are in the sled racing toward a village. He has given me something to eat, to replenish my strength. The dog—my hero—has taken his place at the head of the pack and now he leads his peers back to the village, where they live.
The elements seem to know they have lost. They have quieted from their outburst and let us pass without intervention. Even if they put everything they could throw at us, right now, they could not conquer.
Because there is another human heart that pulses, inches from mine, they would not prevail.
I am no longer alone. Hope surges through me. Pain is not an issue. A feeling of magnificence, majesty and wonder courses through me. Brilliance, Beauty and peace fill my heart—
—my heart; is still beating, still thriving. Because of the love in another man’s heart. He is beautiful. He possesses a beauty that is only noticed when one is placed in such treacherous conditions as I was in. A beauty that, once noticed, is never, ever forgotten. This is the beauty of life. Of another heart. Of another creation that can produce its own warmth. It is the beauty of a soul.
It is the reason people love their pets—because they too have hearts—they too have a certain kinetic energy that enables them to move—and survive. Moreover, it is why people love each other. It is what has kept the world spinning for as long as it has. It is the beauty of love.
This is the miracle of life.

1 comment:

A. Rose said...

**just a little note to this
I know with all my heart death is not a bad thing. I, myself, know that this life is only a probationary period for us and is only a spec on the timeline of eternity.

I also do not believe that if I am ever confronted by Satan there will ever be a need to feel fear or cower in fright. I have the light and power of Christ in my life and I know that Satan is no match for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and that as long as i stay true and worthy to have the Holy Spirit dwell within me I have no need to fear Satan. I have a body; he does not. That along with the knowledge of my Savior gives me the unbeatable advantage over the powers of death and hell.

These ideas are presented in the story strictly from the character's point of view, and while much of what's in this story presents the author's own beliefs, these two concepts do not.