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datatime: 2022-11-28 12:38:31 Author:XLXnIXyT

Because it scares me, and I have to know if I can.

Just to see if I can.

If I can crawl down into that hole.

To me, Richard, I have something left to prove to me.

He shook his head. This isn't courage, Anita, this is stubbornness.

Why? Why do you need to know that? You've proven to me and everyone here that you're tough. You don't have anything left to prove to us.

I shrugged. Maybe, but I still have to do it.

Just to see if I can.

He clutched the flashlight tighter. Why? And somehow I thought the question was about more than the oubliette and why I had to climb inside it.

Then why do it?

What difference would it make if you couldn't climb down in that stinking hole? You'll never have to do it again, Anita. Just don't do it.

I shook my head. I'm not competing with you, Richard, or anyone else. I don't give a shit who's better or faster or braver.

I stared back into the hole and let myself acknowledge just how afraid I was. So afraid that I could taste something flat and metallic on my tongue. So afraid that my pulse was hammering in my throat, like a trapped thing. My voice came out calm, normal. I was glad. It doesn't matter that I'm afraid. I touched the flashlight, tried to pull it from his hand, but he held on. And, short of playing tug of war -- which I would probably lose -- I wasn't getting it away from him.

He held on with both hands. Why do you have to do this? Just tell me that. You're so scared your mouth is dry. I can taste it on your breath.

Just to see if I can.

He knelt beside me and spoke softly, I can smell your fear. I know you don't like close places.

Just to see if I can.

I shrugged. Maybe, but I still have to do it.

He shook his head. I let this happen. I'll get him out.

Why? and the anger was more than a faint hint now.

Because it scares me, and I have to know if I can.

I looked at him, at the puzzlement in his face, his eyes, which had bled back to their normal, perfect brown. I'd been trying to explain shit like this to Richard for a few years now. I finally realized that he would never understand and I was tired of trying to explain myself, not just to Richard, to everybody.

If I can crawl down into that hole.

What difference would it make if you couldn't climb down in that stinking hole? You'll never have to do it again, Anita. Just don't do it.

He shook his head. This isn't courage, Anita, this is stubbornness.

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