once, an animal.
The photograph had been hidden for many years, lost behind a jungle of memories. Peter reached in and pulled it out of the brush.
It was a photo of himself crossing the finish line.
He cocked his head to the side to get a better look, forgetting to be aware of the space around him, and knocked over a shelf of picture frames with his large, curved horns. The clatter made him bah loudly and scamper back.
His girlfriend did not wake.
He looked at the old photograph again. It depicted a time two decades ago when he beat the all-time world speed record for downhill backcountry skiing. The photo captured him blasting past the finish line, head down and horns forward in a ramming charge, every cell of his being leaning forward to escape gravity. He remembered the screaming bellow of joy that flew unhindered from his throat and was whipped away behind him like a napkin out the window of a car.
He was then, truly, at the pinnacle of life’s being. It had terrified him, that absolute excitement of living. To truly dare against one’s own mortality. To rush so fast towards the limits of it.
He never raced again.
He cast his slotted eyes across the disheveled hovel he had dug out for himself. The air was musty and stank of standing water and stale dirt. The blinds were closed to block out the daylight; they were up too late, again, stubborn against the inevitability of tomorrow. The shadows of litter and leftovers lingered about the room like quiet creatures.
He sighed, an empty bleating, into the room.
His girlfriend, a moment ago a formless pile on the bed, now stirred.
“What is it, babe?” she yawned and stretched, pulling the blankets further into a tangle.
He glanced again at the photo, again at her, and replied with an abysmal and fading bah.
“Babe, I can never understand what you’re saying,” she sighed, resigned, and rolled over. Away from him.
He waved his hand dismissively at her and was pulled again into the old photograph.
Oh, what is it to live a life, he thought to himself, if not to fully live it.