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One step, two steps, I stagger forward with my eyes glued to the prize that looked so prepossessing at that moment. I couldn’t take the rushing emotions in my mind anymore. I closed my eyes to process everything that had happened. The towering green trees and the cool air surrounded me as I tried to hold back the pain and the tears that threatened to squeeze through my shut eyelids. My jaws were clenched so tight I was that the feeling in my mouth was going to fade just like the feeling of the rest of my body. At that point, I knew I was too close to the end. I opened my eyes. It all started out as an ordinary day that soon became an ordinary afternoon leading into an ordinary night. All was ordinary until my parents came home with news that kept me awake all night. “Alright kids listen up,” my dad started, “we’ll be going to Pennsylvania to hike so I suggest you go to sleep now as we will be waking up at 7 A.M. tomorrow.” My siblings and I did exactly that, we slept. I didn’t know if my siblings felt the same way, but I couldn’t sleep that night with the trail of jovial thoughts. Despite the lack of sleep and positive thoughts, I still felt as if I could run ten miles the morning of. I spent the car ride to Pennsylvania with my blank face planted onto the screen of my phone and dead silent. When we arrived at the trail, I thought it would be one of the best, if not the best, experience I would have. The view was absolutely breathtaking. The calm, gentle wind was sifting through my hair, making my hair flow and hair follicles shift slightly in place. I never wanted it to end. It reminded me of the snow that falls on a cold winter day, covering earth’s imperfections with its perfectly white cover. In that moment, nothing needed snow. Especially not when my brother fell, which caused me to burst out laughing. Everything was beautiful until karma hit me. All it took was a simple element in nature like water to get my full attention. It glistened, and with the moss green covered rocks around it, it looked so unreal and majestic. Being the carless girl that I was, and still am, I kept walking towards the water. Little did I know, the rocks near the water were more slippery than the ice formed on a raging winter day. I slipped and fell into a sitting position and fell again when I tried to get back up. “Ally,” my parents started, “are you okay?” I ignored them. At that moment, I felt my face flush red with so much embarrassment that I didn’t realize my right ankle was screaming in pain. What I did realize though, was that my surroundings did not need snow, it was snow. Snow. Snow descends from the cloud gently that, at first glance, seems ravishing. It lands ever so lightly on both the perfections and imperfections on planet earth. But soon enough, even I realize that snow can freeze my hands in a matter of seconds; and in even more time, it becomes filled with bacteria and turns dark grey. How did something so beautiful become so ugly and lifeless in the blink of an eye, I thought. “I’m fine.” I answered my parents. I wanted to believe my own words, but I wasn’t fine. After I walked a quarter of a mile, I felt my ankle starting to ache more that it did when I first fell. It felt as if someone wrapped a layer of padding on my ankle and repeatedly struck it with the handle of a butcher knife with every step I took. I traveled ahead without my parents and siblings and was surprised that I didn’t get lost. After what felt like forever, my family and I stumbled upon a blackboard that provided information about where we were and how much further we had to go. I felt my shoulders drop and mouth hang open when I saw that we were less than halfway done, and that the shortest route was the riskiest one; we went the shortest route. I dragged both my legs and my right ankle to try and walk as fast as I possibly could without further harming myself. All I wanted was to get out of there and end everything. I still had so much to go, and as much as I wanted to give up, I couldn’t. I kept going forward, almost falling a few times too. Every minute that passed by felt made me feel as if I was a prisoner trying to escape with the ball and chain still attached to my ankle. After going another mile or two, I stopped to sit on a smooth rock and ignored everything around me. It was then when all my emotions suddenly hit me. I thought back to all the doltish yet magnificent memories I shared with my friends and wanted to start sobbing. I stood up slowly and took a few steps forward while I listened to the crunch of my shoe on the rocky ground. I stopped in front of water. Water. It all started with water. A part of me wanted to go into the water, lie in there, and never come back out, but another part of me wanted to end this painful mess and complain to my friends. I peered down at the water that looked so tempting yet deadly. I had to make my decision then: to give up and accept an incomplete ending or continue and enjoy the glory of a complete ending. I was and still am the worst decision maker. As a result, I was so conflicted I thought I was going to start crying. Frustrated, I let out little screams of anger along with a few stomps, which probably wasn’t the smartest idea. If I give it all up, I wouldn’t have to deal with anything else life had prepared for me, I thought, but I also won’t be able to experience anything else or make any more memories. End is such a powerful word. I want to be able to make it to the end of this journey. I rather have a complete ending rather than an incomplete one. After another half hour of walking while holding my tears, I saw the sign that said “Exit Forward.” Those were the most beautiful words I could have possibly seen at that point. It was the best prize I could’ve ever received. I let my tears flow out and fall to the ground. I took in my surroundings. I was close to the end. I opened my eyes and stared at the jet black pavement that marked the end of my journey. What I felt could not be described in words, but I wanted that feeling to last forever. On the car ride back home, I wondered what would’ve happened if I didn’t trip and hurt my ankle. I have always thought that I had an answer to that: I would’ve actually enjoyed myself and the black asphalt ground would just have been any other ending. However, I view it differently now. I was right at the beginning, it was the best experience. If I wasn’t given a choice to an incomplete ending or a complete ending, I never would’ve been able to distinguish the difference between the two. The black ground wasn’t an ending, it was only just a black ground. In the end, it was really me that decided it was the end and that the ending was complete. And if I didn’t hurt my ankle, I never would’ve experienced the victory of a complete ending.

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