The bright midday light made him squint. He walked through the dry and silent forest and couldn’t hear a single leaf rustle. He must be far enough away from anyone by now, he thought. He stopped, closed his eyes and finally let the weight of all that he could not handle bear down on his shoulders and drop him to his knees. ‘There is no point.’ He thought as the weight further contorted his posture as he slouched all the way down until his head touched the ground. No tears caressed his cheeks. The time for tears had long since passed.

This is where he was and he would do no more for there was no point to any of it anymore. All he needed to do was let go, let go of the need to exist. And it was in the moment right before he let go that he felt a hand gently place itself on his shoulder. Instinctively he flinched and looked up at the owner of the hand.

A child stood as tall as he could and looked the man directly in his eyes. The child did not blink but tears did stream down his cheeks. The boy was familiar but he looked like no one the man knew.

He searched for the intention behind the child’s eyes and he saw shame. The child looked ashamed of himself.

‘Boy… why are you so sad, why do you look so ashamed?’ he asked.

‘I thought I was strong, but I’m weak.’ the boy replied.

‘Why would you think that you’re weak?’

‘You gave up because of me.’ the boy sobbed.

‘Boy, I don’t even know you. Why would you think that?’ the man asked.

‘I tried for so long. I stayed the same just so that you could change.’ the boy replied weakly.

The man noticed that he could see the trees of the forest through the boy’s face as he spoke. The trees became clearer as the boy seemed to become more ethereal.

As the boy disappeared the man recalled where he had seen the boy before. He had seen him in photos of himself from when he was a child.

The man looked back down to the earth beneath him. This time his cheeks were wet and droplets dripped from his chin and darkened the dirt in front of his knees.

He felt many hands place themselves on his shoulders and back as he continued to grieve. He looked up one last time and watched all his past selves that he had failed fade away from him. Then he looked back down to the ground, placed his forehead on the wet dirt, and let go.


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