Chris Espenshade: Will to Die (micro-fiction)

For my SLS, I have worshiped at the twin altars of Stone Mountain (friction climbing) and Seneca Rocks (face and crack climbing). In my lifetime, I have achieved about a 50 percent success rate on the last rapid on the Nantahala. I have sea kayaked in the dark in January off of James Island. I raced mountain bikes in Georgia, and I raced road bikes in Florida. I was a cross-country walk-on at both UVA and Wake Forest. I’ve done stuff in the South.

Will to Die

   Jacob’s recent losses compounded. He lost his mother to cancer. He lost his father to a massive
stroke. He lost his desperate hope for a circle-of-life moment to his fiancé’s
miscarriage. Inevitably, Jacob lost Maria, his ambition, the promised promotion to Vice
President, and his ability to care about life.
   Pilot Mountain State Park was quiet on that Tuesday. If you ignored the signs and slid through
the split-rail fence, you could sit on an exposed rock atop a vertical cliff of 300 feet. Jacob was
prepared for a final loss. A raven flew past at eye-level and croaked “can’t cope?” Alternately
laughing and crying at the absurdity of it all, Jacob lost his will to die.