In one moment, he finds the spot.
He pulls himself out of the car, carelessly closing the door.
Walks to the back of the car, mechanically opens the trunk and pulls it out.
The slam of the trunk does nothing to faze him.
He walks with a purpose, dropping the keys absently as he strides slowly away from the car.
Though his eyes are open, he sees nothing around him.
His focus is on one thing.
Seemingly, on their own, the tears rolled down his cheeks, adding a haze around his vision of the tree.
The grip he has on the rope in his hands tightens with every step.
It is the only thing he can do, he thinks.
Why should it be so hard? Why are things the way they are?
What he does, he does for the good of everyone.
Why are his feet dragging, slowing his steps?
Why does his heart still beat in fear when it is broken?
As he stops at the trunk of the tree, he looks up.
The sky matches his mood.
That familiar numbness he always feels seems to be dissipating as the reality of what he will do sinks in.
With a nod, he pulls the rope around his neck, feeling it snug around, pushing in the hard, loose straw into his skin. A test to see how it feels.
Without thought, he removes it.
Takes a deep breath.
Deep breath. He likes that, he thinks.
Without knowing how, the laughter of his kids ring in his ears.
He closes his eyes.
Their faces stare up at him innocently with reverence, in his mind’s eye.
His eyes open wide as his heart expands with the love from those precious faces.
His breathing slows and become labored. He is having trouble standing straight and strong.
His fingers lose their grip around the rope and it slides, inch by inch, out of his hands and silently to the ground.
Breathing. Body shuddering.
He shakes his head as if waking up for the first time in a long time. He glances around the secluded area of the forest.
What was he doing here?
What was he going to do?
The quick intake of breath hits him square in the chest hard as he slowly looks to his feet.
It glares up at him as in mockery because he is weak.
Slowly, he exhales and leans down to gently pick up the rope.
The darkness comes back into him and he shudders. What did he almost do?
The tears are flowing freely now as his body shakes with held-in emotions.
He can barely stand so he falls to his knees, rope tight in his fists.
He brings it close to his chest as if to hug it.
Letting out all the hurt, pain, sorrow, regrets and depression that he has held on for years, he lets it flow into the rope.
How long he sobbed and shook he does not know.
How long he kneeled in that spot he didn’t care.
As each wave of emotion smacks him, he lets it roll through him, embracing each one, feeling it deep inside and then crying it out of him.
With a deep breath, he is finally spent, emotionally drained but he was alive.
In one moment, he knew he is still alive.
His smile was slow to come and felt unfamiliar.
Then he smiled the first real smile in years. He felt it come in from his soul and out of him.
He felt light. He felt free.
Thinking of what is, he slowly stands up, getting stronger as he realizes how long he had let all that stay within him.
At first, it came out as a silent whisper. He keeps repeating it over and over, his voice hoarse.
The he shouts it as loud as he could, “I’m sorry!”
The message was for him. The time he has wasted in the pain, the hurts, the depression.
Instead of being the end of his line, it becomes his life line.
He takes a deep breath.
Deep breath. He loves that, he thinks now.
Still hugging the rope to his chest, he walks slowly to his car, picking up the dropped keys on his way.
Silently, he thanks the tree and just stands and looks around him.
Taking in the beauty of the starkness. The rich greens on the trees, the grass, the hill behind the forest.
With another smile, he gets behind the wheel. Looking to the future. He knows he has the strength to withstand it now.
He can’t wait to get to his kids. Give them each a hug and kiss. Just look at their beautiful faces.
No music to mar the time with himself.
He enjoys the drive in silence. In one moment, he is really alive.