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That Green Gentleman
This road became my home, I don’t know when, and I don’t know how. Its never ending stretch was littered with things once loved, now forgotten in time.
I wandered down this road for as long as I could remember; I feared stopping, in case I could never move again. Sometimes I would walk until my legs collapsed, and the world would spin and blur around me. But when I wake, it’s the same as ever, the moon was still high above my head, but I felt as if I’d slept for hours. So I simply continue along my gravel walkway.
The bag I kept held trinkets and memories, old dolls and tattered books, a comforting weight always lying on my back.
I would travel through forests of fruit, collecting apples and peaches, sweet on my tongue. Most times I was surrounded by fields of corn and wheat, the gold of their husks shining in the present sun. I never worried about the food I needed, or the water I craved, it was always there when I desired it. I soon saw this road as more than just a place, but something that looked out for me, and gave me what I wanted.
My mind would drift on my time walking, to a fiction of my own creation, of parties and laughter with people like me. It sometimes felt so real, I sometimes wished it was. I guess it was only a matter of time before the road heeded my request. One day, I awoke with company.
He was a portly man, with a bald spot forming in the middle of his graying hair. He was not a happy man, he fussed over the dust and heat; but he gave me conversations. He came with an expensive briefcase, filled with papers with numbers he knew nothing about.
Well, I was content for awhile, but soon his sour conversations became tiring, and he left. One night after he complained of his lack of sleep we had stopped by a rich apple tree, and when I woke up I was alone again.
I was slightly happy the man vanished that morning, but now that I had experienced the company of others, I only desired it more. The road felt empty without his plump figure shuffling beside me, the wind quiet without his complaints. I begged the road for another person, for some company, happy and energetic, someone to keep me happy. I admit now it was a selfish wish.
The road brought me a girl, her hair was long and straight, it blew in the wind as we walked. She was always happy; she danced from one side of the road to the other. I liked her better than the man, but sometimes her smile seemed forced, and emotionless. I woke one morning to her screaming; ice ran through my veins as I heard the chilling sound of her cries. She left the week after that night; she simply turned around walked away, no spring in her now heavy steps.
I didn’t ask the road for more company, my guilt had consumed me. I couldn’t let another soul walk down this road, I may have felt at peace with this place, but my guests have not, so for a while, I walked alone. The fruits taste dulled with time, and the once icy water turned stale and tasteless. My bitter thoughts affected the lovely road and soon everything seemed to wither and die; every tear that fell from my eyes killed the land beneath me.
The sun seemed smoldering that morning, my legs felt like lead as they dragged across the hot ground. My mouth dry but the thought of food or water made my stomach lurch with distaste. In the distance dark clouds stretched to the edges of the fields, the happy blue stained with the darkness. I finally thought of my future here, how I would die here, and the road would die with me.
I sat in the shade for what seemed like days, nibbling on fruit and sipping water. As much as I wanted to give up, I could not; I blamed it on the fear of abandoning the road. But staying here would only hurt the land; for on the brink of breaking was no life for it, or me. The only thing I truly longed for was the company of another person. I wanted someone not only to make me happy, but to be happy with; so we may both have the joy I once felt.
I drifted to sleep with these thoughts, they tainted my dreams with wide smiles and deep laughs, and when the morning rays shined I was afraid I had condemned another; I couldn’t force my eyes open. With one deep breath I looked around me, my bag sat alone, I smiled, no one had joined me in my sleep. This one thought gave me the strength to keep moving, the path seemed a little less long that day.
Edged in darkness the blue of the sky framed the sun and its rays. Through all the fields a lone tree sat, bathed in yellow sunlight. Its branches reached towards the heavens, twisted and dark with age. This was not a fruit tree like all the others before; it was barren of all leaves and life. Around the elderly roots, flowers sprouted like weeds, vibrate colors clashed with the darkness.
I sat below the tree, it was warm from the sun, and nothing disturbed the peace I felt. Though I soon heard something more than just myself, a deep breath, savoring the fresh air; and there I noticed that there was something more to this tree.
A young man stretched against the trunk. His curly brown hair was leaning on a gnarled root, his soft suit was a forest green, it blended with the grass around him. He took another deep breath, his chest rose in carful concentration, filling his lungs to the top. His eyes stayed close as I watched him, and the smile never left his face.
He shifted and I took a sharp gasp, which coaxed his eyes open. They were as green as his clothes, and matched the kindness of his face. I looked away, my face flushed crimson, embarrassed of being caught by my newest visitor.
I kept my eyes trained on his brown dress shoes. The once shining leather was scuffed and worn, deep creases were etched into the sides. Quick shuffling caught my attention in time to have a light flashed in my face. After the dots vanished from my eyes I saw his smiling face, gazing at a developing photo in his hands.
He never let me see that picture; it was tucked away in his jacket beyond my reach, and in all of our time walking, he never once complained. Instead he would tell me about his vivid dreams and show me his abstract pictures. His smiles and laughs were infectious, they made this road a blissful eternity; one where I will always rather like that green gentleman that accompanied me.