The Unforgiving Minute
Pirro at Sweet Water
“Three hundred forty five. Three hundred forty six.”
Pirro puts one foot in front of the other, slowly ascending the ancient, uneven steps carved into the mountain, counting quietly to himself.
“Seven hundred ninety eight. Seven hundred ninety nine.”
His breath is labored.
“One thousand two hundred twelve. One thousand two hundred thirteen.”
His arm muscles bulge, straining from the effort of carrying the two buckets filled with water, careful not to slosh any over the sides.
“One thousand six hundred twenty. One thousand six hundred twenty one.”
He struggles to maintain the balance of the third bucket, resting atop his shaved head.
“One thousand eight hundred fifty three. One thousand eight hundred fifty four.”
The end of the Two Thousand Stairs are in sight – he’s almost there!
“One thousand nine hundred ninety eight. One thousand nine hundred ninety nine. Two thou -”
A single drop falls from the bucket on his head, splashing against the back of his right hand. He closes his eyes, breathing deeply. Thud-thud-thud. The rapid strikes knock the buckets from his hands, and from his head, dousing him in water. He opens his eyes, watching the precious contents spill down the stairs behind the bouncing, clattering containers. A few drops, mixed with his sweat, touch his lips, the sweet and salty combination very unsatisfying.
“Again,” Thich says, staring off into the distance at something beyond the clouds.
Pirro nods, resolute that he would not drop any this time. His entire body cries out for rest as he runs down the stairs, collecting the buckets without stopping or slowing.