The challenge of the walk

Okay…. I finished with word count Tuesday night as planned… here is one last excerpt before I crawl into bed… I know I said earlier I wasn’t going to share this one here, but I figure since I posted it as one of the bits on the official site I might as well, eh?

Thanks again to all those that have helped me to evolve Talia over years. This portion of the writing has all been solo exploration, but occasionally inspiration comes from unexpected places.

(*I feel evil for what I put my characters through*)

          Julie took the blindfold over to Talia and began tying it across her eyes. “Just remember what you told me Eleri was teaching you. You should be fine.” The nervousness in her voice was unmasked. Talia thought she could feel a slight shaking as Julie finished the knot. “Are you ready to go to the edge?” Julie asked.

         Talia nodded, feeling the hand gripping her arm tighten. She inched her foot forward, trying to imaging where the edge of the platform was. When she had extended a little, she shifted her weight to bring her other foot up. On the second slide, she felt her toes curl over the edge. She stopped moving forward and slid her foot side to side. She found the beam, and stepped forward. Exploring, she found the other edge, and judging the width, stepped slightly to her right.

         “Ready?” came Julie’s voice, seeming distant.

         Talia nodded again, “yes, I’m ready.”

         The hand on her arm did not release immediately. She felt a slight pulling to one side and then a light brushing of a kiss on her cheek.

         “For luck.” Julie whispered, right next to her ear. Julie stepped back and she felt the hand release her arm.

         Talia was floating. Floating in the darkness, a seeming endless void ahead of her. At first she sensed nothing. Then, as her heart stopped racing, she could feel the cool night air on her arms. A light breeze brushed past, making the hairs stand up on end. She lifted her arms slightly, extending them loosely, being sure to remain loose and limber. Stiffness would cause her to over correct. Reaching down in her thoughts, she felt her toes and the beam they had found. She turned her right foot slightly sideways to the right, allowing her toes to wrap over the edge. She brought her left foot over, tentatively placing it in front of her. It found the beam. She moved carefully, searching, and found the edge. She set her left foot down, slightly to the left, her toes gripping and exploring. As she shifted forward, she could sense what lay ahead of her. The edge her feet had found extended out indefinitely ahead of her in her mind. It was as if there was a long row of stitches. Eleri’s exercises came to mind, and she lifted her right foot from behind and swung it down along the side as if following the needle disappearing to the other side of a canvas. Her foot came up, following the edge, and planted almost perfectly on the beam, toes curling again. She shifted forward.

         Talia continued, sensing nothing other than the beam. One foot swung out, planted and was followed by the other. A murmur began below her, seemingly a world away. “She’s made it halfway” floated up to her on hushed voices. She ignored it, it was not her. She was a needle and thread. Her legs swung down, stitching her forward. Another step, another. The murmur became louder, like the tide of an ocean, “she’s doing it, she’s going to make it” Talia moved on, stitching.

         “What’s going on here!?” boomed a voice, piercing her calm, drowning the waves and causing the beam to vanish from her mind. She turned, instinctively, towards the intrusion, and felt for a moment as if she was floating in the blackness. There was a blinding light and intense pain, everything went dark and silent.

         Julie was watching from the platform, holding her breath, holding the support tighter. Talia had stepped out from the platform in one gentle, graceful, movement. Her steps had seemed mechanical, even, as she became further and further away. Julie’s heart started to beat faster as Talia reached the point where Tomas had fallen. She wasn’t slowing down. The children below started to murmur, not taking their eyes from Talia’s slender form. There was a mild disturbance coming from behind Julie, she turned to see a rather large priest standing in the doorway to the courtyard. A few of the children had turned and were backing away, into the crowd. The rest still had their attention focused on Talia as she neared the end of the crossing.

         “She’s going to do it, she’s going to make it,” Julie could hear it ripple out from those at the far end, near the other platform. She turned back; Talia was only a few steps away from the other side. In a moment she would reach the platform and all this would be over.

         “What’s going on here!?” the man roared, striding out into the courtyard. Julie saw Talia turn in mid stride. Her foot missed the beam, and keeping to her rhythm, Talia stepped down. Julie’s eyes widened in horror as Talia fell forward, her arms went out, on either side of the beam as if to catch herself but found nothing. Julie nearly screamed as Talia’s head landed squarely on the beam. Her little body rebounded backwards and flopped onto the tarp covered hay, limp as a doll of rags. There was a collective gasp, as the gathered children watched Talia fall. Tomas and Charlie ran forward. Some of the younger children began to cry. Julie stood on the platform, frozen, unable to move.


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