• The flash of lightning blinded me briefly, only seconds before the thunder's loud growl startled my racing mind to sudden, utter silence. Looking up in confusion, I saw nothing except silken blackness looming above, but I could taste the heaviness in the air that fairly shouted of the rain about to drench me. I tried to recall how I had gotten here, but the last few hours were a blur. A second bright bolt of electricity ripped through the sky, imprinting a photographic-negative image of my surroundings into my retinas. No shelter was to be found nearby, so I began to stumble through the darkness, hoping I was headed back the way I had come. My feet moved slowly, uncertainly across the uneven and unfamiliar terrain as I tried to sort through my thoughts just as blindly. The first cold drops of rain landed on my shoulders just as the first warm drops began to roll down my face, and as the memories of my evening came suddenly back to me, the storm inside me drowned out the thunder. The wind caught my desperate cries, turning them into eerie shrieks waning in the empty night, and I surrendered myself to the torrential downpour.

    The blackness within my soul was only beginning to lift as the first traces of light began to creep across the horizon. The deluge of tears had subsided, to be replaced by a sort of aching emptiness that had settled in my chest. The pain had waned to that of a dull knife. I closed my eyes and gently probed my mind, touching on each tender point in the memories to see how badly it hurt. The waves of pain washed over me once more, but not as overpowering as before. Taking a few deep breaths, I was able to push back the hysteria and compose myself. One last deep, shuddering breath, and I willed myself to open my eyes to face the rising sun. A crimson blush crept over the distant hills, reflecting off the pooled rainwater at my feet. Listening to my own ragged breathing as the first glistening rays peered over the landscape, the realization struck me. No matter how bad it hurts, no matter what I had gone through, life will go on. Although the pain remains, it, too, with time, will dissipate. I have been given another chance, an opportunity to learn from my mistakes. I won't waste it.