A Fragile Short Story by Matthew William Elsbernd

A small patch of light lay far ahead, marking the end of the darkness. This echoing tunnel stretchs on and on before me. The mud on the floor sticks to my shoes with each step, as I walk on. The chill of the darkness seeps through my socks and sends shivers up my spine.

With each step, an icicle trying to form on me, breaks. The water runs down my coat, drips from the cuffs, and starts to crystallize. Each stride brings the clicking of my umbrella, used to steady my steps. The umbrella's moulded knob is cold and hard under my frost-bitten fingers.

The gloomy charcoal of my coat turns to purple and white when your eyes leave the cuffs and come to the hands. Veins bulge from under the worn, wrinkled skin. The frozen colors of my hands then drop into the blackness of my umbrella.

Farther and farther I walk. With each step, the layers of mud grow thicker on my shoes. As one layer of mud hardens in the clutches of the freeze, every subsequent step hardens my tired muscles. The umbrella more and more is used to pull me out of the mud, helping free my frail legs.

The light -- the end of the tunnel -- grows near. But light only in comparison to the darkness surrounding me. Shades of grey plaster the exit. Levels of darkness turning into shades of grey. Coming to the end, this great moment of anticipation, I stand still under the protective rim of the tunnel and I look up.
Copyright 1990 Revised January 1997Next Page