A River in Egypt

We stacked our burdens in our burial tombs. No room to lie down and leave this world. So we went on living because we could not die. One day I went to my tomb to discover there was no room for one more burden. I carried this burden over my shoulders throughout the day. I couldn’t bring it home for fear of the shame I might feel for carrying such a heavy burden all day. I walked down to the river bed and collapsed on my belly, my burden falling to rest a few inches in front of my face. I looked at it with resentment and tears began to seep from my eyes and come to rest, forming a pool under my right cheek. I hated it. I hated looking at it. Still, it was a part of me. I sat up and brushed the clump of tear-moistened sand from my right cheek. I lifted my burden in both arms and waded out into the water. I gently placed the burden in the river and watched as it floated down stream. I felt a sense of duty to the burden, knowing that I would not let it float too far. Each second that passed left the burden further away until I could no longer see it. I panicked. What had I done? I returned home, instantly feeling the absence of the weight I had carried all day. I would make several trips to that river. Day by day, I sent more and more burdens floating down the river, feeling instantly lighter with every time I released one into the waters, feeling less and less anxiety the further it moved from me. Soon, my tomb was empty. My neighbors looked on with wonder: “What makes him so special? Why does he have no burden to bear?” I’d like to say this is where my story ends. I soon began to feel this gaping void in the pit of my stomach. They were a part of me and I let them go. I knew I would not be complete until I retrieved every last burden. I spent days moving down river in search of my burdens. I collected every one I could find, but these were not the burdens I sent off in the river. They were at one time mine, but were swollen from the waters of the river. My neighbors and family watched with horror as I returned with my sack of water logged, swollen burdens. Voices came from all around me, judging me, making me a spectacle of disgust. I returned to my burial tomb to find my, now enlarged burdens would not all fit. Where would I keep them? I laid them outside my tomb and sat on the ground, leaning my back against the pile. The sun began to go down and I felt the cold of the desert begin to penetrate my bones. I would not last long out here. I stood, picked up a burden with both hands, and sat, resting it on my lap. I stroked my burden and focused on the returned weight I felt. In my exhausted state, my mind forgot my body for a second and my grip on the burden relaxed. In that second, a fire began to grown in its belly. The light of the fire illuminated the inside of my eye lids and I opened my eyes to see this glowing red ember burning from the inside of my burden. The ember grew larger and hotter until I could not hold it any longer. I stood quickly and dropped it on the ground in front of me and my burden bursted into flames. Soon the entire pile of burdens was alight with fire consuming every last one. I was anxious but in awe of the beauty this flame created. A few seconds later, the fire was gone, leaving nothing but a crisp aroma and a thin cloud of smoke. I inhaled, breathing in the smoke and, as I exhaled, the weight I felt for these things was gone. For the first time since I was a child, I was free to live or die as I wished.

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