• Chapter 1
    "The End"

    I de-boarded the train in Kelso, Washington after sundown.

    The small train station was locking their doors and so I could not enter. I had a small hope that I could send just one message, but without the password, I would be destined to trek four miles on foot, lugging my 50+pounds of worldly burdens through the rain. I’d be lucky to even gain access to the place where I had been invited to sleep, my host traveling in another state. I’d hoped he had left a key outside, but even he was uncertain if he had.

    The train station attendant must have felt my concern, watching me struggle with my laptop and backpack on the train platform. She asked if I was okay, if someone was coming to pick me up. I told her I would be fine (knowing there was little she could do to help my complex situation), and that if she could just give me the password, I could send a message for a ride. No sense in needlessly involving her in helping someone who was so “beyond help”.

    She handed me a small slip of paper with the network information. I thanked her for her concern and wished her well for her evening. She then locked the station door, leaving me standing alone on an otherwise totally abandoned platform. I struggled to keep my laptop dry as I attempted to connect.

    Earlier that day, I had no idea where I’d be sleeping that night. I really had nowhere left to go. I had totally run out of options and faced feelings of being betrayed by everyone who had ever claimed to having loved me. My last hope and longtime friend had turned me away with a pride that he seemed to value over our friendship.

    Uncertainty had become a norm for me over the years, so there was little panic. I had sold my Peruvian flute (my only remaining prize possession of any value) to a young man at the bus stop so that I’d have bus fare to make it to the train in Seattle. I’d bought the train ticket using saved up travel points that I had acquired during my many train trips. I was used to having not a penny to my name and was grateful that I had the agility to make the 100+ mile journey without any money. Due to the hour, the buses had stopped running here in Kelso, and I had no fare left anyhow.

    I would have to walk the four miles in the rain, unless I could get a ride from the only local I knew, my friend’s personal assistant. I had met her only once a few months back, while visiting my friend. I was sure I had not made the best impression at the time. I was terribly sick from sleeping in freezing temperatures in an old barn that had been converted into a machine shop. The cold, moist air had created a black mold situation. I had developed a persistent hacking cough, and had completely lost my voice and my hearing in one ear.

    My friend had charged her with healing me as much as possible and with putting some weight on my starving body. In the week I had visited my friend, it seemed she was always handing me food, tea, or medicine to bring me back from the edge of spiraling into a mortal illness. I had initially liked her and had been touched by her kindness, but had little access to get to know her at all, since I had only visited for a short period.

    Now I was still ill; still recovering from the same illness from months before. Though four miles was not typically too far for me to venture; in fact a short jaunt on my well-walked legs, I was now very weak and uncertain if I could even make this short trek. Thankfully she had given me her email address upon our first encounter. I had one shot at reaching out to her.

    The password on the slip from the station attendant did not work; “Access Denied” the computer delivered with a frustrating stab. With a sinking in my heart and feeling as alone as I ever had, I gathered up my heavy load and began the walk.

    Within the first half mile I would need to cross the bridge into Longview, just across the river from Kelso. As I reached the center point of the crossing, I had the realization that I would never make the walk. The rain and darkness had already penetrated my clothes and my consciousness. The burden I carried was far too heavy for my weak knees and sore back. I stopped and gazed into the dark river below.

    It was a deep river that moved with great velocity as it made its final approach toward the Columbia River basin. The heavy rains had made it particularly dangerous as it swelled upon the shorelines of the depressed cities on either side. It was a killer for any who might get swept up in its currents.

    I considered my hopeless situation; that all my options had finally run out after years of attempting to live life to the fullest with my every best effort. I had indeed given everything, and I now felt as though I had nothing left at all, not even a glimmer of hope for the future.

    The river invited me with its certainty and its power. “All rivers flow to the sea.” I thought. I loaded my backpack back onto my back and clasped the straps so they would not break free from my body and plunged myself into the frigid waters below. As expected the currents swept me under and pulled my weighted body violently along the bottom, like a broken branch of driftwood, saturated to its very core.

    I let go.

    Music: "Teetering" by Q. Tune! (2019)
    https://choon.co/tracks/0p702xmjumc/teetering/

    Image: "Now With Heart" by Cedar Branches (2013)
    Chapter 1 "The End" I de-boarded the train in Kelso, Washington after sundown. The small train station was locking their doors and so I could not enter. I had a small hope that I could send just one message, but without the password, I would be destined to trek four miles on foot, lugging my 50+pounds of worldly burdens through the rain. I’d be lucky to even gain access to the place where I had been invited to sleep, my host traveling in another state. I’d hoped he had left a key outside, but even he was uncertain if he had. The train station attendant must have felt my concern, watching me struggle with my laptop and backpack on the train platform. She asked if I was okay, if someone was coming to pick me up. I told her I would be fine (knowing there was little she could do to help my complex situation), and that if she could just give me the password, I could send a message for a ride. No sense in needlessly involving her in helping someone who was so “beyond help”. She handed me a small slip of paper with the network information. I thanked her for her concern and wished her well for her evening. She then locked the station door, leaving me standing alone on an otherwise totally abandoned platform. I struggled to keep my laptop dry as I attempted to connect. Earlier that day, I had no idea where I’d be sleeping that night. I really had nowhere left to go. I had totally run out of options and faced feelings of being betrayed by everyone who had ever claimed to having loved me. My last hope and longtime friend had turned me away with a pride that he seemed to value over our friendship. Uncertainty had become a norm for me over the years, so there was little panic. I had sold my Peruvian flute (my only remaining prize possession of any value) to a young man at the bus stop so that I’d have bus fare to make it to the train in Seattle. I’d bought the train ticket using saved up travel points that I had acquired during my many train trips. I was used to having not a penny to my name and was grateful that I had the agility to make the 100+ mile journey without any money. Due to the hour, the buses had stopped running here in Kelso, and I had no fare left anyhow. I would have to walk the four miles in the rain, unless I could get a ride from the only local I knew, my friend’s personal assistant. I had met her only once a few months back, while visiting my friend. I was sure I had not made the best impression at the time. I was terribly sick from sleeping in freezing temperatures in an old barn that had been converted into a machine shop. The cold, moist air had created a black mold situation. I had developed a persistent hacking cough, and had completely lost my voice and my hearing in one ear. My friend had charged her with healing me as much as possible and with putting some weight on my starving body. In the week I had visited my friend, it seemed she was always handing me food, tea, or medicine to bring me back from the edge of spiraling into a mortal illness. I had initially liked her and had been touched by her kindness, but had little access to get to know her at all, since I had only visited for a short period. Now I was still ill; still recovering from the same illness from months before. Though four miles was not typically too far for me to venture; in fact a short jaunt on my well-walked legs, I was now very weak and uncertain if I could even make this short trek. Thankfully she had given me her email address upon our first encounter. I had one shot at reaching out to her. The password on the slip from the station attendant did not work; “Access Denied” the computer delivered with a frustrating stab. With a sinking in my heart and feeling as alone as I ever had, I gathered up my heavy load and began the walk. Within the first half mile I would need to cross the bridge into Longview, just across the river from Kelso. As I reached the center point of the crossing, I had the realization that I would never make the walk. The rain and darkness had already penetrated my clothes and my consciousness. The burden I carried was far too heavy for my weak knees and sore back. I stopped and gazed into the dark river below. It was a deep river that moved with great velocity as it made its final approach toward the Columbia River basin. The heavy rains had made it particularly dangerous as it swelled upon the shorelines of the depressed cities on either side. It was a killer for any who might get swept up in its currents. I considered my hopeless situation; that all my options had finally run out after years of attempting to live life to the fullest with my every best effort. I had indeed given everything, and I now felt as though I had nothing left at all, not even a glimmer of hope for the future. The river invited me with its certainty and its power. “All rivers flow to the sea.” I thought. I loaded my backpack back onto my back and clasped the straps so they would not break free from my body and plunged myself into the frigid waters below. As expected the currents swept me under and pulled my weighted body violently along the bottom, like a broken branch of driftwood, saturated to its very core. I let go. Music: "Teetering" by Q. Tune! (2019) https://choon.co/tracks/0p702xmjumc/teetering/ Image: "Now With Heart" by Cedar Branches (2013)
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  • Driftwood
    Losing a Fact We have all been to that point in our lives when something that we knew or thought we knew turned out not to be true. It may have been something small, or something much bigger, but either way, if we were honest with ourselves, we had to re-adjust not only that thing, that belief, if you will, but the many other connected bits and pieces and constructs and conclusions that...
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