March 4, 2012

A short story by Ryan

One day a man went into the mountains on a quest of introspection and self discovery. He was a good and wise man, but a very powerful man and had become quite arrogant. Becoming aware of this he set out to ask his maker for aid with what he considered to be a problem. This man was an able woodsman. He had often ventured out in his youth and learned how to find food, shelter, and the necessities for life in the wild. Many times he had retreated from society to ponder important issues in his life, but rarely for more that a few days. His pack was light. His gear was well made and reliable. For nine days he traveled in an aimless course pondering his perceived greatness and asking if he was deceiving himself.

On the evening of the ninth day he came to a good place to camp. He set his hammock, built his fire and roasted and ate a fish he had caught earlier that day. His wanderings had led him to the western face of a small mountain. He sat watching the sunset and thinking. His fire crackled as he added a few sticks. His journey had very acutely emphasized how weak and needful the human body is. He was exhausted both in body and mind. He knew he was wrong in his arrogance.

As the purple rose in the east the orange fell before him in the flaming blaze of glory that faded as a daily ritual. The man put on his coat as the temperature went down with the sun. He put another handful of sticks into the fire. “Sunsets,” he thought, “the perfect way to end a day.” In the stillness of the dusk he thought he heard a quiet “Yes.” in response to his thoughts. The purple deepened to dark blue and finally to black.

The man sat and watched his fire. The flames danced to their unheard music. Their orange was a parody to the setting sun and the man’s eyes were drawn to them. The dancing flames began to slow and beg for more wood so the man reached for his wood pile. “Wait,” he thought he heard.

“Did I imagine that?” He thought as he added another handful if sticks. “I must be patient.” He decided to wait as the voice he thought he heard had suggested. The air was still. His fire was warm and continued to dance for him. Once again it began to beg for more wood. He, as before, reached for his pile of wood and thought he heard “Wait.”

Was he not to feed the fire? He withdrew his hand and the fire’s plea went unanswered. After a time the last orange blue flames died and their embers winked out. It was very cold and the man, doubting his himself, again reached for the pile of wood. “Wait, you’re nearly ready.”

He had not imagined that. He hadn’t heard it either. It was a voice speaking to his mind, not even a voice really. He withdrew his hand again. The chill of the night began to fade as the man ignored the fire. As more time passed the coals covered themselves in their own grey ashes. The man’s eyes could not focus on anything for a moment. The fire light had gone out and not even the dull glow of coals could be seen. Then, with stillness and silence that would make falling snow ashamed for the clatter it makes, the voice that was not a voice said to the man, “Look up.”

His eyes rose. Never had he seen stars like that. All at once he realized that his eyes had not the opportunity to see the brilliance that that was the heavens until he could draw them away from the flames to which he was so close. He had seen stars before, but never like this. There were more stars than he could imagine. The vastness was staggering. In that moment he realized that all the men he commanded, the wealth he controlled and the power he called his was vaporous absence in comparison to the scene laid before him. His entire life was spent moving and building and working toward goals and the grandeur of it all was nothing. Even a sunset which he had witnessed was still continuing in its glory as the earth turned. An infinite sunset, an infinite sunrise, more stars than one could imagine and a man who thought he was powerful.

“I made this.” Said the voice. “And I made you.”

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