He holds on by a thread. He’s not really sure if the thread is nylon or some other tough and man-made fiber or if—more likely—it’s only the proverbial silken spider strand, almost invisible, almost non-existent, almost certainly destined to fail, plunge him instantly into oblivion. Still, it’s the only thread he’s ever had, so he clings to it tenaciously, terrified of the consequences of letting go.
There was a time—and not so very long ago, either—when, having already depleted his pitifully meager store of resources, his tenuous grip weakened by overwhelming circumstance, he not only acknowledged the likely slip and fall, he welcomed it; welcomed it as the man on the point of an inevitable sword welcomes the final thrust.
As bad as things get, though, every time he feels his grasp slipping, every time he feels the tether failing, he recalls her face, smiling when he comes through the door at night or when he rolls over in bed in the morning and, somehow, he manages a new purchase, an undiscovered reserve of strength that, if anyone had asked him even moments before, he would have denied possessing.