It the shadows “I see. Me too actually, in

It was a freezing cold night. I was tired from the high climb up the side of
the bridge. He liked to watch the normally bustling city, fall to a quiet
slumber. He found it to be peaceful and strangely poetic. Daniel sighed
heavily, “Just needed to get away for a little while.” A man emerged from the
shadows

“I see. Me too actually, in a way.”

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He examined me with curiosity in his eyes, his brows knotted in concern,
“Ah.” We sat there for what felt like days when I finally decided to break the
silence. “Who are you?”  

“You shall find out soon enough.”

“So?” I asked, not really expecting a reply other than a shrug or a quick I
don’t know. “If there was something here, right now granting you three
wishes, what would you ask for?” I laughed briefly, “Like a genie out of a lamp
or a bottle?”

“Something like that.”

“And are there any rules?” It was beyond me as to why I was engaging in such
a conversation, but I went on anyway, “And consequences, are there any of
those?”

“You cannot wish a wish for anyone other than yourself, doesn’t matter
whether your intentions are bad or good, and you cannot wish for more
wishes.”  He paused, for emphasis maybe. “As
for the consequences, they depend on your wishes and actions, as is the same
with everything in life.”

I nodded and took a moment to think. I gazed at my legs again. This time I
could not feel them. They were suspended in midair, it was almost as though
they were entirely separated from the rest of my body. I finally came to a
decision.

“My first wish would be freedom from the grasp of society and the effect it has
on my thoughts and feelings.” I said at last.

“Hmm, that is very thoughtful wish. What about your second?” He said,
without looking at me.

“I would wish freedom. Freedom of the body, mind, and spirit.”

He nodded, watching as the smoke blended into nothingness, looking as though
he were in deep thought. He gestured at me to go on.

I had to take another moment, then went on, “My final wish would be the
answer to the riddle of life, I want to know it’s meaning.”

This time his gaze shifted to me, “That is your final answer, yes?”

“Yes.”

“Kate, would you believe me if I said if I can grant you those wishes?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, I..” I stopped dead in my tracks, “How do you know my
name?”

“I know many things, Daniel. For instance I know that you like to read every
Sunday under the oak tree in your grandfather’s orchard, and I know that your
favorite thing to do is to share a strawberry milkshake with your sister every
afternoon. I also know that your mother left you and your sister when you were
five and you can’t decide who you hate more, her or yourself.” I opened my
mouth to speak but he went on, “I also know why you wished those wishes.

Because your heart and mind are too weary to care about material things.

Because all you’ve ever wanted was to take a break from what is expected of you
by society and your family so you can enjoy a breath of freedom. And you want
the answer to the meaning of life because you feel as though your own bears no
meaning.”

Tears welled up in my eyes. I wanted to run, but I couldn’t find it in me to
move. So I finally sobbed, hot tears streaming down my face.

He looked at me, unmoved and indifferent, “Those wishes can become reality,
if only you walk away from this bridge.”

He sounded absolutely insane, but really I was the crazy one for listening
to him. I nodded, dragging my legs back. We both stood.

He looked at the cigarette between his fingers that had nearly entirely
burnt out. “You almost ran out of time there.” He said, dropping it on the
ground and putting it out with his shoe. Then he turned on his heels to walk
away.

“Wait!” I shouted reluctantly, “what is your name?”

He didn’t turn around or stop walking, but after a while I heard a distant,
but it came to my notice that he gave me a shrug with his shoulders.

I didn’t leave. I stood there for a while until a surge of new thoughts and
feelings overcame me. I had the answer now, and a certainty I never possesesed
before. I went back to the edge of the bridge.