by Jim Bates
sparkling cranberry juice
On the day of her wedding Sam pulled himself to the top of the flat stone mesa called Sirocco Peak. Gusts tore at his shirt as he stood on the edge, six hundred feet above the Arizona desert floor.
"To hell with her," he yelled and threw the ring he'd bought into the empty space.
Sandblasted wind whipped his words and the ring away. No matter. For a moment he felt like a man standing there. A man's man. No one to tell him what to do. No one to hurt him. The infinite horizon stretching on forever. He lifted his arms to the sky and leaned out, buoyed by the swirling sirocco, wanting nothing more at that moment than to step into space and fly. Fly away and be free.
Just then the wind shifted and he stumbled, falling backwards away from the edge and tumbling hard to the ground. He lay on his back and stared up to the sky. What am I going to do? he asked himself. Fly away from my problems? Kill myself?
Easy solutions to the mental state he was in, but the answers to both were clear: no and no. No flying. No killing of one's self. None of that. But the fact still remained - his life was a mess.
Sam sat up and closed his eyes, tears forming, tears he could no longer contain. He had to face it, she was gone for good.
He buried his head in his arms and sat weeping until he was cried out and his breathing returned to normal; an equilibrium of sorts. It was then he heard a familiar call. His mood lightened as he raised his head and looked up. High above he saw a golden eagle soaring motionless on an upward thermal. Then into his field of view another approached, gliding swiftly, and in that instant the two big raptors came together fast and grabbed talons. He watched entranced as they swirled together, twirling and falling for hundreds of feet before releasing their grip on each other and flying away side by side.
He was a bird watcher. He knew birds and he knew eagles. They're probably a mated pair, he thought, performing their bonding ritual. He watched them soaring on the wind as they called back and forth, and he smiled. It made him feel good to see them together.
For a minute, anyway.
Then he sighed a resigned sigh and stood up. He wiped his eyes and made his way to the trail head where he began the long, lonely descent to the desert floor. The wind was at his back as he moved slowly forward, one step at a time toward his uncertain future. High above the two golden eagles flew in a soaring ballet, their shadows drifting back and forth across the trail as if showing him the way; unlikely companions as they kept him company, all the way down.
About the author
Jim lives in a small town twenty miles west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. His stories have appeared online in CafeLit, The Writers' Cafe Magazine, Cabinet of Heed, Paragraph Planet, Nailpolish Stories, Ariel Chart, Potato Soup Journal, Literary Yard, Spillwords and The Drabble, and in print publications: A Million Ways, Mused Literary Journal, Gleam Flash Fiction Anthology #2, The Best of CafeLit 8, Nativity Anthology by Bridge House Publishing and Gold Dust Magazine. You can also check out his blog to see more: www.theviewfromlonglake.wordpress.com.