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Endless Walk: 500 Words a Day Fiction - Day 1 - kale & cigarettes
Endless Walk: 500 Words a Day Fiction – Day 1

Endless Walk: 500 Words a Day Fiction – Day 1

Every year we make this walk. To renew our faith. Our commitment to the practice. Every year 100 of us walk up this mountain, our feet never stepping out of the white line. It’s always hot, we always sweat. But there is nothing at the top worth desiring, so the sweat doesn’t matter.

It’s been 1,656 days since I’ve spoken to them. My 8th birthday. The bike they got me, a blue 10 speed. So excited riding home from school that afternoon. A gift like that, you really shouldn’t be separated on the first day for very long.

Every year I make this walk to remind myself of the impermanence of life. No two steps ever feel the same, trees getting bigger then dying, new faces. Some realize that the material world is a much safer place. I have nothing to go back to.

I couldn’t have ridden back faster. I just wanted to thank them again. For this bike, for giving me this thing that let me roam the world and be free. That ride home the wind was always at my back.

It’s hard to explain what it feels like to see your own home burning. Smoke, sirens, yellow tape. Just like the movies, only no cameras… and no sound. I can’t remember if I put the kickstand down. I’m not sure at which point I stopped pedaling. A lot of people were yelling things at me, but I couldn’t hear. My neighbor, she grabbed me. She hugged me and kissed the top of my head and said you’re gonna be ok darling. I guess I should have known.

Looking back, I realize it was them being wheeled away under the blankets. Had I known I would have tried to say goodbye. I didn’t understand any of it, they had just gotten me that bike.

When I get to the top I will sit and pray, as I always do. I ask always the same thing – that the pain may not be permanent. Everything else comes and goes, I don’t understand why pain has to be different.

When I finish, I put on my slippers and prepare for my chores. 365 days until I make the walk again. I have friends here, brothers. We look after each other.

Foster care, that’s what they told me. I met the people, they seemed nice. But they weren’t my family. And people shouldn’t be allowed to chose your family for you. I nodded, shook my head, did my best to force a smile, and then I ran, well, rode. I rode as fast and as far as my legs allowed. I had seen some kids my age walking this road once, together, all of them together. I went there.

Four and half years and I can smell the smoke. I still have the bike with some of my things but it’s not the same anymore. I wonder sometimes what happened to our house. Why didn’t someone come looking for me? I am going to keep making this walk every year until I no longer need to come back up the hill.

 

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