There once was a man who knew he was broken. His life did not work like that of other people; and he would watch with bitter envy as those around him worked and played; danced and fell in love; were rewarded with acclaim and riches, trophies and treasures and sunshine smiles, and applause.
He had none of this and lived in darkness; often, he would cry and time and time again he would ask what was so wrong with him, why he was so broken, and why he wasn't healing.
Eventually, the man could take it no more; one dark, lonely night he decided to end his suffering, to climb a high tower and step off into the void; experience the soaring freedom for a moment and then all would simply turn to black, and he would be home at last.
He set out in earnest, his intention strong and finally, a burning like a flame inside his chest; feeling more alive than he had felt in an eternity or perhaps forever, he set out on his final mission.
The roads were black and shiny; the freezing rain windswept sheeting down like glass; not a soul was to be seen and he made his way to the high tower, starting on the hard steps upward, his eyes on the unfolding spiral above him, receding into dark.
His breath became heavier; his heartbeat thundered in his ears, through his own body, but he was filled with the flame and he continued upwards, against the pain in his legs, in his back, in his neck ...
Eventually he emerged out and through the gate and into the black night beyond.
So high above the town, the storm was taking his breath away; the icy rain flew sideways, missiles stabbing at his face but he continued forward to the boundary wall and placed his freezing hands on the ancient stones; looked down.
He could see nothing at all, all there was that sense of the rushing rain, joyfully throwing itself to the waiting land below and the desire to become one with the rain, with the waiting land below, became so overwhelming, he could not resist it any longer - he did not want to resist it any longer; will and desire aligned in a way he had never felt before, combining to create a whole new sensation that filled his body, filled him with power and delight ...
He climbed onto the ancient stone wall with ease, balanced with ease against the storm, and spread his arms wide.
Just for a moment, he thought, just for a moment right here and now, I feel this ... I want to feel this ... I want to feel this moment ... I want to revel in this ... experience, in this ... power and ... this ... what is this?
The answer exploded into his awareness and rocked him on his feet, nearly unbalancing him, the answer ...
I feel the joy.
He threw his head back and laughed out aloud; a stream of sounds immediately embraced and rushed away by the wind, by the rain, transported up and away, and it may be that angels heard him, or beings we cannot know but hoped that they might hear us, and come, step forward, smile at us and say, "It's been a long time ..."
The man stood on the high tower, high above the city where everyone was still asleep, or wished they were, and laughed and laughed, until he started to shiver uncontrollably, and that made him laugh out aloud afresh.
He shook his head and carefully, climbed off the wall.
His hands were shaking, as was all of him, frozen to the core now, ice cold wet as wet can be; and yet he took a moment to bless the wall, the tower, with his trembling hands; a wave of gratitude rose up that needed an expression; then he turned, and hurried back to the shelter of the staircase, that was patiently awaiting his return, which would guide him back, all the way to the ground, and out into the silent streets, back to his apartment, where it was warm, and sheltered, where a warm bath awaited and a soft bed to embrace his body.
The Man who wasn't broken - story & illustration by Silvia Hartmann, November 2020