Slowly the aged door stumbled open, catching on bits of debris that had blown up against it by wind that had eluded the wall-planks. Entering the room, the dark shape began a slow dance, eventually shedding the large hump that had adorned its body.
Skitch – light burst to life on the end of the stick and the figure, creases highlighted by the glow, slowly shuffled across the floor and, lighting the first candle, began to move around the room adding more and more until a false warm glow settled over the room.
Hours later, after gathering wood and creating a fire in the hearth, the figure sat gazing into the light, waiting patiently for someone to come along who would help him break the silence of the unending dark that had settled over the land.
“Come in, come in. How are you this evening? Well I hope. Here, pull up a chair as the fire is warm and I have some hearty mead that I’m sure you will enjoy.”
“No? But I’m sure it will do you good. Strengthens you, you know.”
“No. Okay, maybe later. I suppose you’ve come to find out what it is that I have learned. Well, I don’t mind sharing it with you but are you sure you want to hear my tale?”
“Really. As you remember, I had told you of a voyage I had undertaken that had showed me some interesting things about myself.”
The story really begins after my initial walk through the plain. I came upon a river full of emotions and decided to follow it. In some places, the water boiled and raged while in others it swirled and tossed like it didn’t quite know where to go or it flowed so swiftly that all that came into contact were swept beneath and disappeared. There were a few times when it slowed and was so calm that the river was like glass and reflected upon it were images of faces and places which were obviously places of calm. Unfortunately, these seemed to be few and far between. I walked first in one direction and the other but there seemed to be no end and no way to cross although it was hard to tell what was on the other side because of the mist that hung on the bank. Finally, after walking for some time, I came around a bend to find an old man sitting near the edge of the bank tossing pebbles into a rather calm part of the river. Each time one hit, the water would begin to bubble and move. In a few places, the calmness was replaced by small bubbling, boiling areas.
“What are you doing?”
The old man did not respond.
“I said, what are you doing to the river? Why is it boiling like that?”
I moved to grasp the shoulder of the old man. Just as my fingers went to grasp the bony shoulder – nothing. Gone. I stood blinking, then frantically looking around, trying to catch a glimpse of the old man. Nothing. Had I imagined it?
I began to trudge along the river, still unsure if what had just happened was, in fact, real. Ha! How real was this whole thing, really. I don’t know how long I walked trying to make sense of the old man, the pebbles and the river. For some reason I stopped and looked up. There, not 5 meters away was another old man doing something to the river.
This man was quite different. In fact, he was almost the opposite. As the other one had been wrinkled, thin and looking as if he had no friends or home, this man looked strong, well kept and his face shone with brightness. He noticed me and waved a hello then beckoned me to come over.
“Hello”, he said in a rather sing-song type of voice. “It’s about time you made it here. I’ve been waiting for you to show up. Regardless, you’re here now. Come over. Sit. We have much to talk about.”
“Look at the time. I’m so sorry for keeping you this long. Well, I’ll be staying here awhile so drop back tomorrow and I’ll finish my story for you.”
“Good night. Please close the door as you leave, wouldn’t want it to get any colder in here. “