He stared across the water, trying to piece together the puz-
zle that the darkness presented. The waves rushed by his waist,
their destination unknown. Keeping him company was only the
ticking of his watch and the pulsing of his heart. His feet were
submerged, cold to a dull numbness.
Suddenly, a light flickered in the distance, dancing despite the
silence. He tossed his bag over his shoulder and waded towards
the light. Minute by minute, it seemed to grow brighter. Slowly,
he drew nearer—
A deafening clap of thunder woke him, and, he found him-
self still alone, by the side of a road, drenched in cold rain. He
found his bag buried under the tarp he had set up prior to his
sleep. As he stood, the wind seemed to be whispering for him
to leave, and the clouds seemed to agree as they blew past him,
flipping the hood of his jacket over his head. Undeterred, he
followed the path set before him. Withered trees flanked both
sides of the paved highway, no cars present. The road was his
only guide, his unwavering escort to wherever he was headed.
The sun was nowhere in sight, a gloomy eeriness permeating
throughout. He looked down at his watch: Nine twenty-four. He
tried to remember the last time he slept in, the times someone
was there to pester him awake, roll him out of bed, kick him
out of his stupor. When was the last time he ate with somebody,
talked about his day, received a simple “good morning”? He
shook his head and laughed dryly. Those days were long gone.
He was alone now.
One thirty-seven. How far had he walked on the road? A mile?
Four? Ten? His ankles ached; it was harder and harder for him
to lift his feet off the ground. Hungry and tired, he decided to
step off the road and eat. Building a seat of leaves and branch-
es, he sat down, opened his bag, and pulled out a spoon and a
can of soup. As he began to eat, he longed for the once simple
pleasure of a cup of coffee.
flashlight—nothing. The light was simply there, its own origin,
its own identity. As for himself, he had lost his years ago, just like
he had lost everything else.
Eight nineteen. Dinner consisted of two biscuits and water. He
scoured his surroundings, searching for anything dry with which
he could start a fire. A few branches, a piece of bark, and an old,
deteriorated book hidden under a pile of plastic bottles. The
fire was warm, keeping his hands and feet from the numbing
cold. Throwing a few more branches into the fire, he lied down
on the cold cement and threw the tarp over himself and his bag.
He stared at the starless night until he fell asleep to the silence.
The road was his guide, and the light, a promise at
The pulsating light was still there, this time warm and welcom-
ing. He gazed at the light in admiration, his eyes like newborn
stars from the reflection. As he approached the light, a brilliant
glow pierced through the darkness and filled the sky. The numb
cold in his feet was no more, and the ticking of his watch now
seemed to complement the radiating brightness. The sky was a
beautiful blue, a color he had not seen in years, and the water
sparkled in resonance, glittering to the rhythm of day.
He found himself yet again on the road. There were still no
markers, no signs, no indication of where he was—and yet he
seemed to know where to go. The road was his guide, and the
light, a promise at its end.
David Shin is a sophomore concentrating in Neuroscience.
Small breaks were all he could afford, but he knew he had to
keep moving, wherever the road led him. He glanced back at
his watch. Four fifty. The murkiness had grown darker, the clouds
more ominous, the sun still hiding from the wasteland. A strong
gust of wind blew past him, causing him to stagger. As he re-
gained his balance, he continued down the path, dragging his
aching body along. He tried to remember what the light was
like back in his dream. There had been no source, no fire, no