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Impossible This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

We were driving past a river, a crease of cool, glittering landscape speckled with stones and dusted with fringes of white foam. I looked out of the car window for a second, and the pigment cones in my eyes picked up an abstraction, a blemish in the perfectly natural, serene view before me. A man, wearing a white shirt, and possibly a straw hat, was knee-deep in the river. Judging by his tilted posture, he was fishing for crabs, or perhaps or panning for flecks of gold embedded in the rich alpine dirt.

The glance lasted a fraction of a second. When I looked back, irrationally half-expecting to see a bucket by his side, inexplicably filled with the sprawling limbs of grey river crabs, the man was not there.

I squinted, looking quickly, certain I had seen him. The river was empty, save for serried, scrawny yellow bushes that trailed in the water. Beyond it, there were a few people walking along the dead expanse of crumpled grass over which the elephantine mountains bowed. A father held the hand of his small son, a boy swallowed in a thick red coat. Their outlines blurred with the overpowering shadow of winter that danced on their shoulders and bathed in the freezing river. But the man that I had seen was gone.

Save for a few seconds of breathless wonderment, words of reason immediately settled like seeds in my head, quickly germinating and sounding more understandable all the while. The man I had seen was really a tree, yellow and hunched over the river, and my eyes had been only half open, after all. There would be no such thing as ghosts.

Still, I wondered quietly for a second at my quickness to disprove the seemingly impossible. If such rare hints at otherworldly possibility so swiftly meet their demise, then no wonder the unbelievable has remained just that - unreal. If I had really spotted a disappearing man, an apparition, a cry from the other side, it was immediately crushed by the voices of firm reality conditioned in my mind.

I gazed at the mountains, omnipresent beneath the northern Vermont sky. They were cascading, wintry and enveloped in dark pines and naked trees. The clouds were a blend of pink and blue escaping from the sun’s iridescent rays. The river babbled over the many stones lying jaggedly in its bitter midst. Soon it disappeared, replaced by rows and rows of forest.

If people had not believed the impossible, then would explorers have ever left their homelands? Would we still today live in a world of darkness? Why should I not have seen a man disappear with my own eyes?

Impossibility is relative, my friend. All things on this earth have their start and finish, and someday the great mountains will be reduced to dust amongst the endless stars. In retrospect, is it all so ridiculous after all?




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