The Traveler

Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
— Antonio Machado

The traveler sat down on a sand dune and saw nothing. He heard nothing. He feared the worst. He had reached a truly godforsaken place: a vast, mournful pan of emptiness where anything sentient resented anything else that was alive. Every sun-scoured scrap of fauna had barbs, hooks or thorns, every animal had poison, paw or claw. Scorpions scuttled and snakes hissed and slithered while they went about their grisly business of survival. Even sand was an enemy. It burned his feet raw, it stinged his eyes and acted as a surrogate for pain.

His skin felt like scraped by sandpaper, his tongue was cloven to the roof of his mouth. His eyes felt like they’d melted into the back of his mind, making everything seem mirage-like. He knew he was alone, abandoned, and doomed. A colorless heat haze had blurred out the background and his vision had become myopic.

Yet, through the silence, through the nothing, something throbbed, something gleamed.

“His mind is not infinite,” the traveler whispered. He placed one hand over the edge, the air trembled feverishly around it. He could not see what was beyond, but he could feel it. Nothing. Infinite emptiness. Just as it had been at the beginning of time. He closed his eyes and tried to reach for it. His hand felt cold. He opened his eyes. Beads of sweat trickling down his temples. He took a deep breath, shook his head, looked around at the vastness of the desert. The air was clear, the sun drilled high against the sky. He glanced at where his hand was supposed to be. Nothing. He could still feel it, could move it around, but he could not see it. He curled his fingers into a fist and slowly pulled back. The hand appeared once again before him.

“The mind of God is not infinite,” he mumbled and fell down on his knees. He looked back at the never ending expanse of the desert. The world and everything in it was there, behind him. Everything God had ever imagined into existence. Everything, there, but a line.

On his knees like a penitent, his heart a fist trying to break free from the cage of his ribs. “Don’t be a beggar,” he said. “Have some faith.” His eyes brimming with tears, he urged himself to have some courage. Some hope.

The journey was over.

He stood up, rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hand, and stepped over the edge of the world.

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