…And it was Sufficient

September 21, 2007
By Jon Wolper, New City, NY

Far beyond me, the street narrowed into nothingness – a nondescript line so fine and thin that I questioned its veritable existence. Behind me was the same, and I realized that I was only the midpoint of this ebbing concrete. Perhaps many miles down, there would be people conjuring similar thoughts. Perhaps many miles down, there were no people at all. I had no way of knowing – the road sizzled and shifted all around me, manipulated by the blazing onslaught of heat from the sun. The concrete seemed on the verge of cracking, imploding, revealing the first layer of Hell below ground level.

I walked, but I remained still; somehow I had always remained the center point of the expanse of gravel. Despite all the houses, dilapidated and threatening full collapse, or the abandoned wheelbarrows coated with rust, or the old mill that seemed to scowl at me as I passed, I never truly moved.

I knew that.

Cracks below my feet were road maps at one point, bottles of water at the next, and Lucifer’s face following. His time worn face laughed at me just as the mill had scowled – finding humor in my situation while he was incapable of pity.
But even after seeing his face in the cracks in the eroding gravel, I walked.
Wildlife was scarce, if it existed at all. For all intents and purposes, I knew, I was the wildlife. Nature was mocking me for being here, and I was essentially an insect because I’m caught in something I can’t control and I’ll fall knees first face second without anything to block my fall and I’d land right on the Devil’s grinning buzzard face as he took me with him down down down and really, in the end, there was no escape.

Except to walk.

There was bittersweet hope along the way. A boot, once sturdy, was sagging against the curb. There was a tuft of weeds pushing through the concrete. There had been life here – if there was not now, there had been at one point, and it gave me hope but there’s no life anymore, is there?
So with both the optimistic memories of boots and weeds and life to combat the Devil’s omnipotent laughing face, I continued to walk.

…and then the sand will rise like an inverted red sea from either side of the road and it will rise towards heaven if that even exists anymore and it will block the light of the sun and for a second I’ll be cool but just for a second…

There was nothing. There was sand.

There was a lot of sand.

It could be four feet, fourteen yards, forty miles deep, but I’d never know because I might as well be walking on a bridge. The yellow dividing line shot from worlds away, running millions of miles per second and managing to squeeze right between my feet before tearing to the other end of existence. And there was sand coating the yellow line. It was thin, a small amount, but very noticeable. There was no sand overflowing from the roadside; rather, it all seemed to congregate directly on that yellow line…

…and then the sand will pause a second as if to say “well you might as well think about the irony of this situation” and I’ll laugh and agree and then it will plunge propelled by gravity on top of me and I think I’m laughing while being smothered but no, it’s not me, it’s my friend the Devil cackling away as he kills me with a wave of sand…

I was laughing, deliriously. Below me, the cracks on the ground rearranged themselves. I followed a group that congruously rose in a slight, concave arc towards the top where they abruptly ended and continued in a frenzied mess a few feet below. At the zenith of the first crack formation, right before the wave broke off, there was a small pile of sand no no no stop I can make it out no no and I made sure to veer to the left as I passed it by.

I couldn’t see anything in the distance; it was like the sun had switched on an invisible barbecue all around me. Everything was distorted and surreal. Houses turned out to be rocks, wheelbarrows became solitary blocks of wood, and old cars were merely shattered remains of glass. Except for the sand. I could always make out the sand as it rose up and down in little dunes, little hills, rising and falling like a wave rollercoaster that never ended.

Then I found a bottle of water.

At a distance it was a speck, so inconspicuous that I mistook it for a small hill of sand. However, as I advanced it steadily grew. Soon it was in full focus – it stood wedged in the sand, a beacon of optimism so close so far that told me that everything was going to be just a-ok.

I took off towards the bottle from about fifty feet away, sprinting as fast as my legs would allow. Joints creaked and ached and begged me and resisted my attempts to push them harder but it didn’t matter because there was water. With a rush wave of anxiety I slid into the sand, creating a spray that rose up and lifted towards the sky. I scooped up the water bottle. It was transparent but heavy so it is water and I found water.

I numbly opened the cap, and greedily poured the water on my starved face…

…it rises and falls and ebbs and flows and I’m just in the middle of it all playing with the undulations like I invented the gravity that makes the waves and I paddle and I stand and I ride and I stop but now I fall and I’m falling and falling but the fall is broken by greenish liquid and I’m thankful until the rest of the monster the water the sand the wave crashes down on me again except this time I don’t choke on sand I notice this time I get held down by force and by God by the Devil I’m not getting out of this one…

I was coughing and choking but the water was too perfect for me to notice. Life was restored onto my parched tongue and the mountains and valleys in my face were beginning to recede and it was good, He said, it was good. I fell on my back, tightly gripping the bottle with both hands and staring at the salvation I had received.

He gave me Manna and He said it was good.

It was good, and somewhere on that godforsaken road the Devil would be frowning through his cracks wondering how he couldn’t off me before I found some sustenance. His dejection would turn into rampant anger and he would explode with fury, incurring wrath through all seven layers of Hell. I smiled because I knew I had won. Somewhere below me, the flames were a lot hotter than usual, but I had the water and I knew damn well that I wasn’t about to extinguish that raging hellfire.

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