Perhaps if his faith were stronger, icy waters would not have soaked his foot through to the bone, but he had stepped out upon the lakes surface intent on proving something to himself, or perhaps to God. He had failed. Was there still such thing as hope?
Jonathan stooped on the mirrored lake's rocky shore and listened intently as the distant mountain summit sung his name across the mist-shrouded valley. His thoughts swam like the sparkling trout that danced just under the crystal water's surface. The big fish's tail flipped, inviting the weary, soft-spoken man to come play.
"Play," he murmured. The word was the flavor of winter icicles broken from the edge of the porch roof on his and Diane's cabin. He strangled back a nagging cough and forced his mind to continue its trip away from his problems. Straightening, he loosened his arms in a twirling motion, he'd learned during martial arts class, and his eyes drifted skyward. Morning sun stretched lazy orange fingers across the sleepy sky, caressing the few mountain born clouds that shepherded the valley. The preternatural canvas reminded him of earlier days, times before he had become trapped in deep space, fame, and wealth; soft gentle mornings when he awakened to the velvet warmth of her body molded to his, her breath soft on the back of his neck. His eyes brushed the snow-covered peaks in the distance.
Would she still be there?
A thump of his leather hiking boot sent a little brown rock careening toward the trout. The fish scampered away long gone before the stone neared the water. The little pebble hit the surface with a bloop and sunk, leaving a nearly invisible ripple on the smooth surface. The irony was not wasted. Jonathan shook his head, picked up his knapsack, and glanced back across the valley one more time. The nagging hack returned. He swallowed. Warm liquid spewed from his lips. With the sleeve of his weathered L.L. Bean jacket, he wiped the residue away without looking at the result. He'd sold his soul to have the jacket imported to a far away port. Now, so close to home, the exoticness had nearly lost all meaning, but the garment had not suffered near the punishment his body and soul had borne.
Too late to worry about those things now. The woman he had searched for, found, then subsequently allowed to walk away, could be waiting at their rustic cabin, rocking in the hand-built swing he had made for her, watching the snows, and talking to the fairies they both knew followed them from world to world. He closed his eyes and imagined her sitting there. Perhaps she captured the distinctness and beauty of each and every snowflake. Unlike himself, she knew beauty when encountered.
He opened his eyes as a feathered sigh escaped his chapped lips. The edges of his mouth turned up, more in a wry grin than a smile. The sun made love to the clouds, tickling their underbellies. Diane's laughter played a symphony inside his weary mind as though his head were full of angelic, tubular bells. As his mouth achieved a feat he thought long forgotten, the rainbow leaped from the clouds, across the summit and lake, and brushed full length upon the valley. Diane had polished the gift to maximum brightness.
"I wait for you," she promised through the colors. He unfastened the first two buttons on the jacket and let the cool wind kiss him from the mountain top as the fantastic bridge of color continued to grow in both shape and form. Half the shades were new to him. How she managed to find so much variance in things mundane was a thing he hoped to learn before the end. How she so easily recognized life inside of death and light inside of dark was a lesson that could save him if he would only believe it.
"Perception is reality," he whispered, then took three steps out onto the surface of the water. His eyes locked onto the rainbow as it touched the far side of the lake, an arch over the summit.
"The rainbow bridge," she had explained, "is God's bridge across Eternity. The Promise spans the Alpha and Omega."
Two more steps. The trout pecked the bottom of his boots through the surface. Jonathan glanced down once, then continued across the water toward the place where an ancient promise had been made by them both. Though he had breached their promise, the rainbow explained their vow was very much alive. The world had separated them. With his one step of faith, they conquered that. Nothing so trivial as the illness which stalked him, could ever gain a foothold to again push them apart. Never would darkness claim him while rainbows called him home.
Ben Stivers is a poet and novelist living in Louisville, Kentucky with his wife, Wendy, and two of his four children, Nicki and Josh. He is a graduate of Troy State University Montgomery, an avid reader, and a persistent writer of both poetry and novels. He has completed eleven novels, and over one thousand poems, many published. When asked what drives his pen, he replies, "Early on, I was encouraged by a close friend, and for that gift, the only way to say thank you is never stop writing." To that end, he writes about, and on just about anything (including napkins, old newspapers, backs of envelopes) -- stopping only once in a while to ensure the world is still present.
Visit his web site at http://www.artquest.com/Giveaway/9-98feature.htm