You don’t know how long you've been laying here in the park. You only know you can’t move. Outwardly, you are as inanimate as a piece of lead. Within, however, is all churning motion. You can’t believe she rejected you. You started the day in love’s vise grip; you lay here now, crushed.
Endlessly, compulsively, you turn over in your mind memories of her, progress you thought you had made, moments at once soaring passion and earthbound embrace, now endless freefall into an abyss within and the hard ground without.
You attempt to escape your thoughts, but every contemplative path circles back slyly and lands you before her cruel, indifferent image. Unable to distract yourself and not really wanting to, you torture yourself with images of her with him; as if you can make the reality of the two of them together vanish by turning and twisting the image about in your mind until it wears away. Instead it only fades and recurs over and over in endless variation.
Something draws your attention out of the corner of your eye: a small bird has landed within arm's reach. You have been motionless for so long it must not realize you’re there, you think with grim humor, picturing yourself in a time-lapse film, molding over and decomposing into the earth. The bird turns its head about with short, abbreviated movements that make it appear as if it is projected by an old, flickering film.
You've never before found yourself engaged by the beauty of something commonplace, of anything really, but in your weakened state this creature you would never have noticed before, with its fine, intricate markings and exquisite fragility, with the novel grace of its movement, appears to you as something divinely transcendant.
It is just then you realize you will survive, even as you know the ache is not nearly over. You will pass out of oblivion, leaving the pain behind. You are still in the darkened wood, but a peak above the treetops marks your way out: the journey before you is still long, cold, and tiring, but now it has a destination. You have been released.
The bird flies off. Free as a bird, you think, watching it flit away.
You rise and lean forward, slapping the grass from your pant legs. You hear a small airplane not far overhead. You look up. Squinting up at the plane obscured by a brilliant sun, you see it is trailing a banner. Putting your hand up to shade your eyes you read: