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Life's But a Walking Shadow
by Radioactive Loner
Radioactive Loner -- all rights reserved

Through a veil of darkness, I saw the door burst open and a wolfmorph come running through the door. "Tara! Oh, crap!" And then blessed darkness slid down around me. As my last thoughts drifted out to sea, one thought came to the forefront of my fading mind. "Good. He didn't make it in time."

Unfortunately, he had.

My eyes slowly opened. I was in a hospital room. Wanderer was shrouded in darkness in the corner, looking rather haggard and about ready to fall asleep. Looks like he had been keeping vigil all night long ... and all day? The sun was setting, and the rays were casting their light on my face. Wanderer rose. "Good," he said. "You're awake."

"Yes," I said.

I held a wrist to my hand. No restraints ... and the cut had been stitched up. Both of them had, evidently. So I suppose Wanderer got me here in time.

I have Wanderer to thank for being alive. I looked at him. Had he thought he was doing me a favor?

I asked him that question, not without a touch of sullen resentment.

"Tara," he said, resting a paw on my arm, "tell me. Did you think about how your death would have affected any of us?"

"Why should I have?"

He sighed, then took a seat. "I've been at the Pig a while. It's been the scene of a few suicides itself. Each one of them has affected everybody deeply. It's one more person giving up -- one more retreat, one more concession to those who want to make us less than we are."

"Less than who I am?" I straightened up in anger. "Who I am? What I am is a man trapped in this bombshell's body! What I am is someone whose lost his entire identity!"

"No," Wanderer said, keeping his tone quiet. "You haven't lost your whole identity. You're still who you are. That saying 'that which does not kill us makes us stronger' may be a cheesy saying, Paul, but it's got a kernel of truth in it. I like to think that suffering through SCABS doesn't make us stronger -- it just shows us strength we never had. I know that's the way it was with me." He got up.

"Tara ... Paul ... whomever you choose to be. I hope you realize the strength you already have. You can get through this. You may not realize it, but you can. And you've got friends to help you through this. But ... even if you didn't, you could still get through it. I think you're a lot stronger than you realize, Bard."

He put a paw on my shoulder. "I'll let you get some rest. I have to leave for a couple hours. Ask the nurse to give me a call when you're ready to check out, and I'll take you home."

I stared at my wrists, with the tight stitching. I was alive, and I was still here.

As Wanderer left the room, I called to him. "How do you know I won't do it again, given the chance?"

He turned. "I don't. You have to choose to live, Paul. No one can force you to choose life."

His eyes grew compassionate. "But as a friend, I sure hope you do."

And with that, he was gone.

I looked at my wrists. And I closed my eyes.

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