The Passed Note Issue 1 June 2016 - Page 52

the steel further, rendering it rigid. He wheezed hard to loosen a breath trapped inside the constricted iron lung of his body. The boy was scared, and, at the worst possible time, his wooden half began to stir as it did when bickering with its opposite.

The writhing gave way to eruptive pain in his side as though being stabbed from within, something clawing outward for an escape. The pain, sharpened to a point, threatened to steal what little breath he could gather. The boy heard the fabric of his vest tearing, and he looked down to find the end of a log emerging from his side. More agonizing to keep in than to pull out, the boy grabbed it with both iron and oak hands and yanked it from his body.

A notable split ran down the middle of the trunk. The boy pressed his thumbs into the crevice and cracked open the log. Inside, assembled no differently than a gift, he found several bundles of twigs and pieces of branches bound together by leafy vines. Beneath the bundles lay a bed of loose splinters. He traced the dense and striated outer layers of the log, noting the way they’d formed. The boy discovered he could peel off sections of the bark, each one serving as nutrition for a long-lasting bonfire. He leaned together a heap of the branch fragments and lit the splinters and vines as kindling. Almost instantly, the iron side of his body began to ease with a grateful groan.

By early afternoon of the next day, when the sun seemingly balanced atop Mount Albot, the boy took a moment to notice how high he’d traveled. The expanse of blue stretched wide across the sky as though his metal arm wrapped around the world. The view was humbling; his own town and neighboring towns he had never visited were mere specks, like markers on a map. Rounding the last curve of Mount Albot, the boy waded through a thick curtain of clouds, mindful of where he set his awkward feet once inside the white.

At its apex, Mount Albot leveled off as though someone bit the end off a carrot. Above him, the boy saw an old man sitting with his legs dangling off the cliff. As the boy started towards the old

52