Once there was a Fellow with his Friend. One day, the Fellow said to his Friend, “Hike up this mountain with me, for I’ve been told we will find the purpose of life. Wouldn’t that be the most beautiful sight to see?”
But his Friend shrugged with a frown on his face. “I am not good at climbing mountains. I’m scared of heights and many dangers lie in the wilderness,” he said.
But the Fellow pressed his Friend. “I will journey with you and protect you. Is finding the purpose of life not worth the risk?” And with the Fellow’s encouragement, his Friend finally relented.
So, the Fellow and his Friend journeyed up the mountain and the Fellow did just as he said. He helped his Friend up the steep rocks and kept a lookout for dangerous wild animals. As they kept on, his Friend grew more comfortable with his surroundings and he was glad he came.
After much traveling, the two came to an overpass. Across from the overpass, another mountainside towered over them. It was much grander than the one on which they stood. Hoping this wasn’t the end of their journey, they looked for a way to cross. It didn’t take them long to find but a single rope bridge hanging between each mountainside. With glee, the Fellow started for the bridge, but his Friend became hesitant once again.
“Haven’t I told you I’m afraid of heights? Surely more treacherous dangers lie over on that mountain.”
The Fellow replied, “Is finding the purpose of life not worth the risk?” But his Friend became obstinate and stood his ground on the side of the mountain where he had grown secure.
“I do not think a bridge like that would be safe enough to cross. It looks as if it has been here since the beginning of time!”
“Surely, it is trustworthy,” the Fellow pleaded. “Come, I will cross first, and you will see that the bridge is secure.” The Fellow grabbed hold of the rope rails and gingerly made his way across the swinging bridge. When he successfully stepped on solid ground, he turned back to his Friend.
“See? I speak the truth!” But his Friend shook his head.
“You may have made it to the other side unharmed, but how do I know that it will not break underneath my weight and cause me to plummet to my death? No, I cannot go any further. I am safe on this side of the mountain and I will stay here.”
The Fellow’s face fell. “As you wish,” he said. “but I will not stay with you. I will follow the path, so that I can find the purpose of life.” With that, the Fellow turned away and disappeared in the woods.
His Friend, however, set up camp on his side and waited for the Fellow to return. But the longer he waited, the more impatient he grew. What if something terrible had happened to the Fellow? He approached the bridge which swayed gently, but fear swelled up in him when he saw the long way down. In fright, he ran from the bridge.
Perhaps, the Fellow was just taking his time. His Friend began to wander around the mountain as he waited for the Fellow. Suddenly, the earth rumbled and began to shake beneath him. The ground split and rocks crumbled, falling down around him. He charged back toward the bridge, hoping he could still flee to the other side before the whole mountain collapsed. If he ran fast enough, he would not fear the bridge anymore.
But as he cleared the shaking trees and the roaring earth, he gasped, finding that the bridge was no longer there. It had detached from his side of the mountain and he found no other way of escape.
The mountain crumbled to dust, and the Friend’s last thoughts were of his Fellow, who had safely crossed over the bridge.
© Leah Jordan Meahl 2019