Sharon’s note: Something that you hear about with some disabilities, but don’t really understand until you feel it is the exhaustion. This isn’t a normal sort of tiered. The best analogy I can come up with is this: It’s like being in a contest to see who can stand on one leg the longest. Most of us can do this, and some people can do this for a surprisingly long time, but no one can do it forever. Eventually, you start to wobble. You can learn tricks that can help you keep your balance, and you think you have it licked, but then you start to find other problems. Muscles begin to ache and burn. You develop a cramp. You get tiered and bored. Keep it up anyway. If you manage to keep your balance it starts to hurt, not just physically, but mentally as well. Your body starts to tremble and you can’t control it. You start to wonder why you’re doing this to yourself but you can’t stop. As the pain grows you get angry, with your body and yourself. You hate yourself for putting yourself through this, and this wars more with your self loathing for thinking of giving up. Sometimes the pain and exhaustion wins, and you have to give up. Sometimes you persevere and ‘win’. Sometimes your body gives out, and you fall to the floor, to tiered to stand so you have to be carried out. You didn’t give up, but you didn’t win either. It isn’t fun and it isn’t fair, but I am of the opinion that ‘fair’ is just a misinterpretation of the concept of balance. Fair doesn’t exist. It’s not a perfect analogy of how exhaustion can work, but it feels close. Warning: Author knows that most contests to stand on one leg get this serious, but has known some very stubborn competitors. Also, sorry for the long intro. 🙂
The SUV tore through the tape and rumbled over the boards. I was three quarters of the way across the bridge when there was a sharp crack. The front end of the SUV dropped and metal shrieked. I uselessly slammed the breaks and braced myself to plumet into the slough, but the car stopped. The driverside tire hung below the bridge, but I didn’t fall any further. I turned the key to kill the engine and waited. Nothing happened.
“Hey, Joy, are you okay? What was that noise?”
“I’m fine. Just a little car trouble. Look, Brian, I have to take care of this, so I’m going to have to turn off my radio for a little bit, okay? Can you hang on while I deal with this?”
“Yeah, okay.” I heard him swallowing hard. “But you guys are still coming, right?”
I closed my eyes. “Nothing could stop me from coming. Just keep an eye on the kid. Swap out when you need to.”
“I got it, just . . . hurry. I’d hoped this thing would eventually get boarded and wander off, that doesn’t seem to be the case, but . . . what if it does? The cabins aren’t that far from here and most of the family is still there. What if it goes after them? I really don’t want to die,” Brian lowered his voice, ”but maybe it’s better for it to stay busy with us rather than going after everyone else.”
I laughed once, humerously. “Are you interested in a job when this is done? You think like a Hunter.”
“Tell you what, if I live through the night you can help me brush up my resume. Deal?”
“Deal. Take care.” I clicked off the radio. I could have left it on, but he didn’t need to hear my struggles. I didn’t want him to know that I was the only one coming, or the fact that there was a chance, if I screwed up again, I wouldn’t make it in time to save him.
Moving carefully, in case it caused the car to shift, I grabbed my cane and eased my door open. Relief fluttered in my chest what it was unimpeded and I was able to slide out of the car. I kept my steps slow and measured, wary of falling. The bridge probably wouldn’t break under my feet, but the boards were uneven and I could easily trip. I wasn’t worried about me, but Brian and the others needed me. I opened the back of the SUV and took out my rifle case. I’d brought so many things that could be helpful, but I had to leave them behind.
It was a mile from the bridge to the end of the trail. For me, it might have well been a hundred, but a person can walk one hundred miles. All it takes is time, effort, and a little bit of pain. I didn’t have a lot of time, so I was going to have to make up the difference. This was going to hurt. During, definitely, but more later.
“So be it,” I mumbled to the air as I picked up the case and headed down the path.