I pick up the spectacles and walk across the cold wooden planks and set them on the small round side table. With the glasses facing down, I feel alone in my home. Heading back to my bed I slowly slide back into the pile of clothes that lay on the floor. With the cold autumn floating in the air as if to worn all of the coming winter, my skin begins to warm. With a wanting push, I stand and head for the long lifeless stove.
The cabin seems to breathe with its own life. The characters it plays are whirling together only to let loose its chosen desire at different times of the day. Which character is showing its face this morning? The air seems thick with despair and wanting. The very act of walking within its walls encompasses my body in a misty fog. I feel as if I’m being moved along not of my own will, but will the will of this minor corner of the forest. Do I dare refuse its intentions? Who am I to resist? These walls have seen the best and the worst of throughout the years. They know me better than any man could possibly hope to. Giving in I let the currents guide me through my steps. The closer I get to the other side of my home the further my arrival seems to be. It’s as if my sight is stretching the view as I continue forward. Will my destination ever come? Will the expansion before me continue or will it let me be?
With the metal contraption full of a radiant blaze, I shut its door and open my door to the world as quietly as I can wanting to catch a glimpse of the dogs in their new morning ritual. The door handle cold in my hand I grasp it tightly and ease it open. The hinges creak, and I stop with barely enough open space to get my nose through, rubbing the hinges with my hands in an attempt to warm them up and quiet them down. The world is small at this moment; a door and my wish to catch the dogs in their natural morning way.
Funny how one can make the world such an insignificant place to exist within. Even funnier is how we can convince ourselves of how small it can become in any given amount of time.
I hear the dogs outside once again, a small town of their own. I try the door again, slowly, but with no success. The dogs jump to the sounds of my quiet attempt at catching a glimpse of them. They’re off and running; off to begin their day — another chance to roam the forest with a guided purpose. The cages have not been forgotten, but their memory adds to their pleasure. The pleasure of being free and at ease. Sometimes my envy gets the best of me, and I begin to fantasize that I am one of them. Running along with the pack in the vastness of the forest. Content to spend my days among the others and the creatures of the land. These thoughts rarely continue on for very long, but they are nice reminders of hope.
I step out onto the porch and let the brisk airflow across my exposed skin as the smoking pit to hell is putting forth its last strong efforts to stay alive. The smolder twirls as graceful as the morning fog and blends my view into a watercolor image that is gradually coming into view. As if what I’m seeing is from a distance, a picture of itself taken from far far away. Nature is blending beauty and cruelty as only she can. Opposite intentions of the new day are raging war with each other. A bloody battle that leaves nothing to chance. As the blood spills from both sides, the hue of the morning drifts back and forth from tone to tone. How can anyone not find this morning battle that is thundered every day a beautiful balance of give and take? As for myself, I prefer the fight that occurs at dusk. The fierceness is no less than the morning, but the inevitable outcome is better received. The night is always the vanquisher.
Half hoping the ring won’t be there I raise my hand to my pocket and rub my fingers across the thinning material of my checkered flannel and instantly feal the unmistakable shape of my father’s ring and the inscription it carries. With my finger running around the never-ending circle of the ring I decided that today I will indeed travel into town and meet Elizabeth and do my best to understand why she had possession of my father’s ring and glasses. Stepping back inside I look around and notice nothing new yet the feeling I get from my solitary home is a fresh sensation.
Have I been wasting my life? Have I not lived the path I should have taken? Has my past ruled my present like a heartless king who cares only for his kingdom and cares not for his people? Is rebellion in the air? Will the king’s throne be overturned, and the king himself brought to the gallows to face his fate?
My cabin suddenly seems smaller than usual, and the smell of weathered timber hits my senses with a distasteful aroma. Disgusted and repulsed I grab my hat and my father’s spectacles and then reaching for my walking stick I’m quickly out the door and on the trail heading for town. Too many trips have been taken in too little amount of time. This overexposure to others is beginning to wear thin within my head. I pray I can find the words to speak to Elizabeth because my weekly allowance of conversation is coming to its end. Silence is so many things at once that I’m finding it hard to express its exact nature. Solitude warms itself by clinging to silence and silence embraces solitude like a mothers hug. The two rarely separate from one another, and when they do a man can quickly get lost within himself and the world.
As I hit the bottom of the first hill, I begin to notice that the forest has started it’s changing of colors. The soft woods have, what seems like overnight, let their green go and taken on the yellows, oranges, and reds that accompany this time of year. The unmistakable leaves of the Horse Chestnut have littered the trail with their enormous foliage still bright with a sun-colored yellow. As I continue ahead, the newly fallen leaves crunch and crumble beneath my feet announcing to anything and everything within the forest that I am in their earshot and moving on by without a care. I can hear the dogs moving along each side of the trail as usual yet somehow quieter than myself. Then suddenly nothing, suddenly silence except for my own two feet and the leaves that crunch and crackle beneath my weight. Stopping I look around thinking my black wolf might be back in the area but all I see, and no more than fifty yards ahead and positioned against a tree on the right side of the trail, is a figure of a man — the silhouette of stillness and substance.
Instantly thoughts of Levi Meed jump to mind. A dream come true, a nightmare breathing heavy upon the back of my neck. Standing completely frozen now I listen for the dogs once again; nothing. Taking a few steps forward and letting the crackling leaves make my presence known the figure never moves. Stillness so deep with unforgiveness and dripping with a demeanor of a frozen pond. I stop again, afraid of what I might find. Swallowing my fear and using it as energy to move forward I begin to get a closer look at the deadly still figure. Forty yards, thirty, and now twenty yards away I kick some dirt and leaves in what I now know is in the direction of William. Still no movement. Then I see it. William’s pistol is resting in his right hand that sits half in his lap and half on the ground. Coming closer I can see dried blood frozen in time down the side of his face, and the front of his jacket stained a dark red. Not only has he been shot in the head; there in his chest rests a knife pinning a letter in place.
THE SECRET RESTS WITH ONLY ONE NOW…AND HE IS WHOLLY SILENT…THE PAST WILL REMAIN TRUE…
As I faltered backward and tripped on an exposed root, my mind is locked on the falling leaves as I hit the ground.