A couple of months ago a very kind person let me start a story for her. I thank Cameron Garriepy for that, and you can read about it back on my post titled Story Circles and Lines. Back then another kind and talented person, Kate Shrewsday, took up my story and continued it, and then others took up the call after her. You can read all those parts of the story circle on Cameron’s blog starting with Kate’s second part. All of that is great and I really admire those who followed up, but I felt empty. Empty because although others may have completed the story, I had not completed my story.
And that is where this Part II comes in. I really hesitate to do this because I don’t want to diminish in any way what Kate and the other folks did. But I feel that I need to complete my story, and there are either three or four more parts to that story. So what we have here is the second part. The other ones will hopefully be coming very soon, but for now you have Part I on Cameron’s site and Part II here. Oh, and when they are all done I will republish them all together. But that is later. For now, without further rambling …
A Line Runs Round The World – Part II
There was smoke blowing in from the south west, and the smell of battle. I could tell that it was a battle and not just some other sort of fire because the smoke contained the distinct scent of blood and hot metal. Metal that was being used and push beyond its breaking point in a race for survival. The odor of exhausted metal, if there was such a thing. And that smoke blowing in brought no comfort.
This was around the middle of my fifth year walking, and I was more often than not overlooked by those not on the path whether they were looking directly at me or not. At first I was surprised that it didn’t matter if I walked past soldier or civilian, guard or gardener they reacted, or failed to react to me in exactly the same way. I never touched these outsiders for why should I? What did they have to offer me? Money did me no good for I just took what I wanted, which wasn’t much. And besides that, I had left my wallet behind me. So far back. How far? I took it out of my pocket while sitting on a bench, back when I still stopped to rest, took it out and left it sitting on that bench. My wallet with what little money I had, what little papers there were that said who I was and why I was. It may be there still.
I remember wishing that smell, the smell of smoke, had been burning leaves. Or the fire in someone’s stove with family gathered round. That would have made me feel like all was well with the world; no matter what the truth really was. But no, this was war. This was the fire of intentional death and all the confusion that went along with it. And I knew that I had no choice but to follow my line where it led, and somehow I understood that it would lead me there.
As I drew close I could see the faces of the battle. The blood. The sweat. The missing faces. And whatever I saw I kept walking. It is hard to describe and I don’t even know why I am trying, but their fight did not affect me. The sides, whatever country or cause they were fighting for, were not mine. I don’t know what they were warring over – whether it was land or religion or money – and it made no difference to me because I had none of those things now. And none of them held any value to me. All there was for me on that battlefield was emptiness. The emptiness of loss and of waste. When all you have left is life, then that is what you value most.
And I kept walking.
Through their lines, shifting and temporary. Through their lives, and through their deaths. And out the other side.
And still I walked.
This was not the last battlefield I would cross. In time I crossed many more both greater and smaller, but they were all the same because to me they had no value and no cause. I wondered how many of those who died over the years really knew what they were doing and how much value they placed on the battles. The cost was clear, but the value was missing. I tried to find it in their faces. I looked deep into their eyes as I walked by, on both sides of their lines, but I saw nothing. Nothing of recognition or difference. If I had turned around, if I could have turned around, I would not even have been able to tell which side was which. Who was winning? Who was gaining ground or losing ground? Their lines were not mine.
I tried to remember if their lines had ever been mine. If they could have been mine. When I was young I used to admire the family and friends who had gone to war. The stories of the cause and the valor were like alcohol to a young mind and I would grow drunk on the words. So many of my friends had stayed drunk. Or stayed that way at least long enough to join the fight. But which fight? I have covered so much ground by now that I can’t remember. Only morning after haze of knowing it was important back then remains. And even that is growing dim.
### END PART II ###