Illusions of Suspension
A Short Story by Jeremy Benjamin
Written using the suggestion ""I am still here two days later" "remain" "reflect" "wrong" "village""
Originally featured on 07-15-2009
As part of our series "Stories Written for Mel Favara’s “1,000 Words” Reading Series"

  Hugh held on to the tree branch with his elbows as the lava singed the trail, erasing it one shrub, one rock, one leaf at a time.  He would stay there until it hardened, and then he would find a way back to his car.  His car, by now, was a fossilized symmetry flushed down to anywhere.  The village lights below flickered.

So he looked skyward.  His arms were starting to pulse, which was the stage that usually followed prolonged fatigue.  The next stage would be dizziness.  If he tried to hold on through the dizziness, he would start to dream.  Hugh was not a strong man.

But he would soon be proclaiming to the tree, I am still here two days later, get used to it.  Two days later the lava would no longer be flowing, but would still be hot.  It would make his shoes stick to the ground, his rubber soles sizzling like melted butter.

  It was wrong to hold on tightly, because there were more efficient ways to hold a tree.  If he had achieved proper footing, he would be balancing his weight, legs clasped and arms free, to sit and wait.  Instead he hugged the branch to his stomach.

  The lava was an orange cartoon broadcast over dirt, thickening to blips of static.  It was not all orange but purple and gold and every color that hurt, and it reflected the sky that was also wringing colors down like dishwater.

  Hugh held tighter and exhaled.


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