March 21, 2012 (5:30 AM)

5 min read


Someone told me that pushing oneself beyond the limits of what one is capable of doing would be the best way to learn what must be learned. But I disagree, considering the circumstances. In the boat I am on, doing so would be unwise. I never said that I wouldn’t. I just couldn’t.

It was around half past nine in the evening. If you’re General Specific, it was exactly 9:37 when I checked the clock. I never had the rare and unique ability to finish my homework on time so I ditched all the school stuff and went outside for some fresh air.

The evening was fine. The cool breeze was bearable and the silence didn’t remind me of horror movies. The moon was peeking behind the silver clouds. The stars illuminated the gloomy night. There were no signs of living things. I was alone in the middle of nothingness. I stopped walking, took a deep breath and sighed.

As I thought in silence, the brightness of the moon grew weaker. I looked above to know what caused the sudden darkness. And I saw something. It was a creature – a winged creature. It flapped its fiery wings with immaculate grace. Its scarlet and gold plumage gleamed in the moonlight. It was a bird of magnificent size. It became bigger as it went nearer. I felt fear. But somehow, I wanted to welcome the strange creature. I bit my lip to check if I was dreaming. I wasn’t.

The winged creature descended, creating a mighty gale in the process. I shielded my eyes with my arms. It was like a helicopter greeting you face to face. But instead of landing, the massive bird flew through me. I turned around and watched the creature flying away but maintaining the low altitude. I ran.

I could feel the creature’s warmth as I chased after it. Its long, elegant tail feathers were burning and the flames danced with the winds. The creature began to cry a strange cry. It was a combination of dread and distress. As I continued to run, the distance between us grew smaller. Was I gaining speed or was the creature flying slower?

It was getting exceedingly warmer. Large beads of sweat trickled down my face. I felt fear. But I continued running and reached out my right arm as far as I could. I closed my eyes and anticipated the burning heat. I visualized myself in sheer anguish as my hand was being swallowed by the flames. But my expectations weren’t met. I opened my eyes and realized that I was holding the creature’s fiery tail.

Before I could express my unreserved amazement, the creature flew upward. I disliked the creature’s abrupt idea but it was too late to disagree. Letting go would mean falling to my death. I had no choice but to hold on for dear life. I hesitantly looked below and refused to do it again.

The creature was persistent in flying higher. I could sense the decreasing temperature, which was ironic because the creature was nearly engulfed in flames. It created a strange noise again. This time, it was a combination of strength and hope. Suddenly, the creature stopped. Before I could ask why, a blinding light emanated from the winged creature. All that remained of the creature were its ashes. I fell.

I shouted like never before as I plummeted helplessly in the air. I didn’t know what to do. But I knew that my fate was sealed. Death awaited me below. I felt fear. But I stopped shouting, closed my eyes, and recalled the best moments of my life. With a smile on my face, I waited for the inevitable.

Seconds became minutes. The solid ground would greet me at any moment. But it didn’t. Instead, the cold waters devoured me. I opened my eyes only to see darkness. Bewildered, I descended into what I thought was my watery grave. I felt fear. But I remained calm and looked around. When I gazed below, I saw a light. I swam nearer and found out that it was the very same creature I encountered moments ago. Its scarlet and gold plumage gleamed under the sea. Our eyes met for a moment. Then the mighty bird grabbed me gently and darted upward. Together, we burst to the surface, creating splashes of water that glinted in the night.

As I recollected my thoughts, the creature flew to the moon. It grew smaller as it soared farther. As I watched the bird disappear in the moonlight, I became aware of one valuable thing. I swam to shore and walked home, a changed person.

– Ralph Oja B. Bagay

End the silence of the gagged!

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