As I made my way through the world, following the line, I saw many people. The young and old were stretched out before me and I could see them all. People of all colors passed by and created no more stir for me than the trees and the rocks. Of course I saw the lame and the ill, the rich and the poor, but their plight was their own and I took no stock with them. If any one of them had seen me, even glimpsed me from the corner of their eye, there would have been no recognition for I was no long with them. I was on my path and as different to they as the stars to the streams.
But once, I stopped. I do not know why. As I stated before I had long since given up on noticing war and strife. Had ceased to even care about it or the self-induced famines and pestilence I passed. These were all man’s own doing, and I wanted no part of it. Had no part of it. But once, that once.
I was walking near mid-day in a valley of shade amidst leaves and oak when I saw a girl down by a creek. She was all alone and I could not remember how far back I had passed the last village or farm house. Although I was no expert on the area, I did not believe there were any roads or worn paths nearby. She was in my place – the quiet away from places, and her presence called out to me. To this day I don’t know why.
As I walked closer I could see that she was young and looking towards the water of the slow moving stream. Perhaps she was fishing I thought, or reading some book of romantic poetry away from the taunts of brothers and sisters. But even then, even still, I knew she was not. There was a stillness carried on the air as assuredly as the smoke and wind had carried the heat of battle. As markedly as the stench from cities carried far out into the virgin countryside.
I hastened my step to draw near her side. I knew there was no noise I could make, no sound I could utter that she would hear, no one noticed me any longer. But as I grew close, she lifted her head and stared at me with pale green eyes. I stopped. The feeling of no longer being in movement rushed over me and I grew light headed, but her eyes pulled me back down. She was pale skinned with long hair stringing down around her shoulders, but I could not lose sight of her eyes.
And then I did. I looked away from her face just long enough to see the dull blade by her side and the red blossom spreading out upon her dress. Her wrist. Her wrist was bleeding from a jagged garish cut that looked as if it had been made by child hacking away at a clump of roots or soft limb.
I knelt down and looked into her eyes. Those eyes that saw me. No one had seen me, actually seen me for more years than I could remember and yet she did. She looked into my face and smiled.
Reaching out in desperation I grabbed her arm. I held my hand over her wrist. Her eyes started to glaze over and I swallowed hard. What was this? I was scared. I don’t know if I was scared for her life or for the loss her seeing me. For a fleeting instant I had existed in her world once again, but that was fading. With each wet pulse I felt between my fingers I could sense her leaving.
And I cried. I had not cried in years. I have not cried since. I don’t know if I am still capable of crying, but I was then. I cried softly for her passing. And then I wailed and I wept openly. I held as tight to her wrist as I could until I cold feel the bones rubbing together beneath her skin, but it did no good and her blood continued to slip between my fingers and run down to her dress and to the steam. I couldn’t stop the flow, so I cried. Until her eyes shown no more. And my path was pulling me.
Slowly I stood. I stood straight, and I walked.
I walked without looking back. I didn’t want to look back, and I didn’t try. I refused to try. I had to move forward, I had to keep walking. This was not the path pulling me, but me pushing it. I would force my line far away from here and far away from her. I broke into a run and ran until the hills were gone and the earth had swallowed the stream. This was when I stopped, fell to my knees and looked up at the night sky with eyes still red.
And it was only then did I look at my hands. My own hands covered and caked in blood that was not my own. I would not wash my hands. No, time would take care of that, and what did I care for the blood was not mine. It had never been mine. And it should mean nothing to me.
I stood up. And I walked.
### END ###