Journey to Salvation

“Are you truly guilty. I mean, that thing you regret are you really to blame?”

I wrote this poem in answer to the following prompts:
Sadje’s What Do You See – picture above from Pixabay
Ragtag Daily Prompt — Twitch
Fandango’s One-Word Challenge – Skyline
Your Daily Word — Wan
Pensitivity’s three things Challenge — Pride – Fall – Hurt

Journey to Salvation

There I was flat my back on the cold, hard snow. Gazing upon the sapphire-blue skyline I traced the fluffy, grey clouds. The wintry sun drew a wan smile from my frostbitten lips. Even this close to death I found myself appreciating the majesty of the day.

Rolling onto my side, I coughed and retched until the snow was stained with my blood. The air was so cold and dry it was freezing and splitting my lungs and throat.

I could hear the blood crackling in my chest as I gasped for air.

Driving a gloved hand into the snow, I forced myself to stand. While I deserved to die, I wasn’t ready to give in yet.

Clutching my right arm to my chest, I grimaced through the pain stabbing like daggers within my dislocated shoulder. It was all I could do to twitch my near-frozen fingers as I staggered down the hill.

I trudged on maybe a dozen steps before my vision blurred and I fell. My body was so ravaged that I spaced out and tumbled down the slope. I was aware of a spruce bough slapping my face and very little else.

My consciousness returned with a searing pain that erupted from my chest. My shoulder had been joined by broken ribs, I was sure.

A snowdrift saved me from falling further. Blood frozen to my face revealed fresh lacerations thanks to the tree too.

There’s always pride before a fall.’ I heard my father say in my mind. He died years ago whilst mountain climbing just like I’d been doing.

There was no pride in this fall. I was stripped of that when I killed my friends. My inability to correctly tie the climbing ropes had doomed us all. A fir tree had saved me, Clair and Ethan have died when they crashed into the ravine.

Even as I staggered back to my feet, I could hear their screams. Their faces swam in my mind drawing tears that froze on my cheeks.

I’ve never known hurt like this before. Yet I knew I had to suck it up and keep going. I failed my friends in life, but in death, I would honor them by ensuring the authorities returned them to their families.

Turning back down the hill I gazed upon the shimmering silver-green waters of the lake. I could see the cabin the three of us shared on the shoreline.

I was nearly home.

I was nearly there!

I’d never suffered OCD, yet I found myself counting every agonising step. It became a battle of tens. I willed myself to make it ten steps, then another and another.

What felt like hours later, I fell before the old wooden church in the trees. I’d made it back to civilisation.

Crawling to the door, I pushed it open with my good shoulder. Warm air washed over me creating the cosiest sensation I’d ever felt.

My eyes flooded with tears; A mixture of relief, grief and guilt. Dragging myself into the aisle. I gazed upon the cross hanging high above the altar.

“Please – forgive me. I …” My voice was barely audible. The dry cold air had savaged my throat. “I …”

“Dear God in heaven! What on earth happened to you. my boy?” said a man running over wearing the black habitual suit of the church.

I felt myself smile as I recognised him. “Father Myres, I …”

“It’s okay. Let’s get you rehydrated and warm.” Myers ignored my cries of pain as he scooped me back to my feet.

There is nothing I could do but let myself be dragged into the father’s quarters. He sat me in his chair by the fire and smiled at me.

“You’ll be okay now, my boy,” he said while helping me drink some water from a glass.

It burned like fire and yet felt so good to hydrate myself again. “Thank you,” I croaked.

“Of course. Didn’t you have a couple of friends with you?”

I nodded with fresh tears rolling down my face. “I … I killed them.”

“What?” Myers looked dumbstruck with horror.

“We – We were climbing into the glacier ravine. The knots I tied in the ropes failed and we fell. A tree saved me but Clair and Ethan fell the whole way.”

“Then it was nothing more than a tragic accident. Are you sure they didn’t survive?”

I shook my head, “I dislocated my shoulder, I couldn’t get back up to where they fell. They didn’t answer me when I called, but I’m sure they’re dead.”

“By God, there’s still hope.” Myers grabbed his phone and put in a call. “Yes, I need mountain rescue to head into the glacier ravine. Two climbers fell there this morning… Thank you … I have a third climber with me at the mountain lake church. He needs urgent medical assistance… bless you, goodbye.”

“Thank you, Father,” I said as he hung up and returned to me.

“I will pray for your friends. Rest now, help is on the way,” he squeezed my good shoulder and stepped back into the church.

The warmth of the fire quickly lulled me to sleep.

An agonising pain thrust me back to consciousness. Bright lights of the hospital greeted me as someone yanked my shoulder back into its socket with a sickening crack.

Darkness

The next thing I knew I was on a hospital ward.

A nurse was smiling at me, “Welcome back, Nathan,” she said cheerfully.

“Hi,” I croaked. “My friends?”

“Mountain rescue found them. Both sustained severe injuries, but they’re here and alive. You saved them by making it to the church.”

“Thank you,” I managed through my tears. “Maybe I did deserve to live after all.”

The End


Thanks for reading my friends.

There’s more in the Poetry CornerPoetry Nook, and the Short Story Collection

Have a great day!

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