There is not one death, but many, and I prayed the right one would find me.

My grip slipped on the rain-slicked girder, cramp seizing my fingers in a vice.  My legs slung in a provocative arc, rocked by the crashing of the train overhead.  Far below, a mountain creek trickled, hazy through the rain.  I hung on: this was not my death.

When I was younger, I had dreamed of slipping away in sleep when I was very, very old.  At least 50.  Funnily enough, my granny self still cuddled the same Teddy in her arms.  I didn't know then that most people would be lucky to meet this Death.  He only worked part time, Tuesday and Sunday evenings.  The odds were much more like it that you'd meet a much nastier sibling.

Actually, even those lucky enough to meet the gentle sleeping Death spurned him thoughtlessly.  They fought, they raged, they enlisted psychiatrists and endocrinologists, astrologers and hairstylists on their side.  And they lost their chance.  The gentle death slipped away.  An elder brother took over.

This one had the biceps to fight the breathing machines, the heart pumps, the drug cocktails, his voice could slip past charms and talismans and enter the mists of that most secret part of your mind and whisper: Your Time Has Come.

My time had not come.

Now, here you'll be thinking I've done exactly what I've just been railing about, raging against the dying of the light, fighting against my rightful death, submitting my soul to a tug of war match that will only lead to more pain and heartache.

But my time had not come.

It may seem a strange thing to say when one is swinging from a railway bridge 250m above a mountain stream.

Well, I knew this much.  If I was wrong, I would die here.

So far, circumstance had proved me right.

At last the train passed, rumbling into the hiss of rain and the grey of the evening.  I slung one leg onto the girder, locked my ankles together.  Span by span, I pulled myself to end of the bridge.  The rain beat the pine-scent from the boughs standing witness along the sides of the ravine.  Where ironwork meet rock, a web of barbed wire nested.  I spidered over.  Shrugging my jackets closer round my shoulders to squeeze out the rain licking my neck, I set off down the iron road.

No, this death was not for me.  I had miles to go before I could sleep.  Miles to go before I sleep.


AN: Thanks to Dylan Thomas and Robbie Frost for inspiration.  This is an entry into the Review Game's April WCC, click on the link in my profile to see the other entries and vote for your favourite between the 7th-14th April.