The feeling of a mother’s hand, gently brushing against your cheek as you lie in a field of rain. The coarse softness of her fingers as they slide down the flesh of your face, smoothing your features and carving a path towards the universe of light that slides through your vision as you shut your eyes and weep silently into her shoulder. “It’s over,” she whispers gently into your ear. “It’s over.”


The sensation of bristling on your forehead as you bury your head into the sand, submerging your features into a pillow of tiny rocks. The shallowness of your breath as it becomes filled with the golden pebbles of the earth, and you allow yourself to crumble into them; ashes to ashes, dust to dust.


The water of the ocean, cascading over you, under you, around you, through you. The icy heat of the waves as you paddle your way to nowhere, finally surrendering to their seductive call and allowing your body to sink beneath the surface and keep on falling through the depths of blue. Your relaxed muscles as you surrender all breath and yet do not drown. Your disappearing consciousnesses as you let yourself go, falling through time until you are caught by the calm hands of nothingness.


The heat from the flames as you move your head closer to the fire, allowing the flows of burning air to brush through the curls of your hair. The soft crackling of sparks in the flame, followed by the gentle hissing that sounds like a tea kettle coming to boil. The white smoke that emanates constantly from the blaze of red, filling your lungs as you lean your head into it and breath it in deeply. The poisonous vapor of the earth sticking to the sides of your throat, making the flesh of your body turn brittle and crumble to pieces, breaking as easily as a fallen sheet of glass.


The roughness of the trees as you press your small hands into their bark, allowing its texture to imprint itself into your flesh. The sensation of awe that sweeps you as you see the thousands of brown rings inside the trunk of a nearby fallen tree, each the mark of a passing year. The softening of your senses as you stare at your own hand, wondering whether the lines printed there are the marks of the years that you have seen soar by without fail. The tart taste of a fresh apple that you picked from a nearby branch; it’s juice soaking into your veins, the juice that had been stored inside the tree you sit under for hundreds of years. Now it is inside of you; soon it will be gone, leaving its mark only in the lines on your palm that you continue to stare at, wondering how long you have left.


The deep red light that streaks the sky as you lie in a field and stare up at the gleam of the morning. The gentle aching of your eyes as they tear up from the light, as your burning desire to look continues to transcend mind and body both. The gleaming yellow bulb that the red of the morning has become by midday, blinding you when you look to it as it hovers endlessly above you. And finally the rich and fleeting red once more, appearing now at the end as it did at the beginning, ushering out what it did usher in. The throbbing nothingness of the air as the sun and all it’s beams disappear, allowing in the faceless void of night.


The glinting reflection of the stars in your eyes as you allow your gaze to feast on the twinkling spheres up above. The daunting feeling that sweeps your body as you are soaked into the thick darkness of the night, a speck of dust on a horizon of oblivion. The weightless nature of your body as it floats through space, neither flying nor falling, but simply being passed through the black folds of silky cool air that surround you. Your sudden mournfulness as you stare from your perch among the stars back down to those who walk on land far below. Your streaming tears as you attempt to cut the cosmic string that binds you to these beings, and the tie refuses to break; no man can stop himself from being born, and the bittersweet fruit that liberates you from existence only reveals itself once you have accepted its sour burn in a moment of serenity. Breaking finally through the surface of your mind, you know that moment has come.


Your enormous effort to pull your consciousness back into the reality that surrounds you, to not let the acuteness of your confusion and grief penetrate the life that you must leave behind. Your bubbling surrealist subconscious that has plagued you till the end is finally allowed to rest into its place in the richly colored tapestry of your life, leaving a clarity of purpose that suddenly makes your senses perk to a state of acute awareness. Your hand strokes the dog that sits by your side, who lies serenely in a world of blissful ignorance to what must lie ahead. The softness of his fur as it slips gently through your fingers, achingly real and wonderfully warm, the same fur that he has always had, still here for a few days more. The emotional perceptiveness of his gaze as he lifts his head and stares into your eyes. Your realization that he knows, perhaps has always known, and simply accepts that which must come. His soft and gentle breath as he lays his head back down and falls to sleep.


Your last, final goodbyes, marked by your sudden and fierce determination to let your grief fall to into background noise. Your arms once more around your mother’s neck, but this time firm and stronger than before. Now she weeps, and you must dry her tears; a cycle, now fulfilled, can fall to rest. You brush the strands of hair out of her face, and look, determined, straight into her eyes. You see within these spheres the sand, ocean, fire, trees, sun, and stars, all the wondrous visions that did plague you and entrance you. These too do fall away as a last tear falls from her cheek, and now you see yourself reflected back, your very determination to let things fall to rest, and see within the world what you did love before it falls to dust and it is gone.


Your emotions stirring up inside your body, filling you with a burning, thickly spread warmth. Your last determined venture, as you close your eyes and fall once more into that world of black, is now upon you. Your emotion fills you up, and reminds you of all the wondrous things that you did see, therein also reminding you of all that you did not. So much should have happened, and yet did not. Time slipped by like sand through your fingertips, and now, as the lines of your palm reach their final tally, you see all clearly. It was always coming. Now it is here. You’re left with just the fleeting, wispy, overpowering memory of it all, and the knowledge that you did love it when it was. It is great. It was great. It is all there ever was.



Nicholas Judt
Age 14, Grade 9
The Dalton School
Gold Key

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