His lithe hands trembled before him. He was sure now. As the sun reached the top of the craggy outcropping, he remembered…

         In the distance he heard the drumbeats… the thuds. Stark. One… pause… another. The clacking of the hooves. Hollow on the cold pavement. The little hand rose to the tiny face. A salute  amidst the sea of tears. The tiny  boy stood tall in his blue suit. Daddy would have been proud.

           His eyes glistened as he felt the pain again, deep inside, where the beast had stabbed at him. The fetid water of the swamp rippled as he gasped his first breaths…

             The black stallion twisted and pulled on the reins as the young soldier carefully placed one boot in front of the other as death’s breath cut its swath and eternity embraced the words that a nation and little boy once believed.

              Home. To his Father, where he would be safe at last, from the clutching hands. The insatiable crowds. The venomous altar from which only hate took forbearance.

               It was done. Never was he more sure. He remembered.

               A life of remembering, lived in a cauldron of  derision and loss. Tied to memories of caissons and cold November days. Dancing jackrabbits and blue baseball caps. Twisted wreckage. The sharp metal severing his hope, so carefully entrusted. Gone.

                The last glow of the waning light quivered as the boy shut his eyes and placed his hands together. Far below, the darkness beckoned. From the lair of absolution where his urgent prayers echoed as the cold wind lifted the autumn- burnt leaf aloft. He stepped to the precipice.

                The distant voices never heard. The searchlight invisible  behind his closed eyes.

                His path was clear. It had been, all along. He had been too blind to see.

                The silence crushed him as he fell into the darkness.

               Forty seven years spared. The sword sheathed. The armor left to tarnish.

               A life never lived. Remembered only in words cut into cold stone.