November 21, 2013

The Eidolon in Prague

One

The Prague Story goes like this. We can’t say what hotel we stayed at, nor at what café we drank espresso in the morning. But here’s the story-truth, all that matters really: we got drunk in Prague on the first night of our honeymoon. We wandered the ancient streets until our feet ached to find a bed. Our hotel appeared before us more by miracle or dumb luck than any sense of direction we possessed. In the morning, we celebrated finding our way back with strong coffee and kolaches—Czech pastry of semi-sweet dough with some kind of candied fruit in the middle. Andrea didn’t bother with makeup, and that was better. She refused to add sugar to the monstrously strong brew. The bitterness would stick better in her memory, she said.

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November 26, 2011

The Cliff-Hut

I would not have found the hut myself except that one of my sheep found it first. The hut was over a cliffside, on a slender outcropping about five meters below the edge. Otherwise, the cliff’s face dropped a sheer seventy meters to a rocky beach pummeled by massive breakers. I found the sheep on the outcropping after a stray rabid dog spooked her from my flock. Even against the harsh wind and waves below, I could hear the frightened animal bleating. So could my flock, and they ran ahead of me to the cliff.

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August 29, 2011

Aftermath

The hurricane left the usual damage—barren milk shelves, tree limbs ripped roughly from trunks, flooded basements. All this I had expected; I had been warned by radio and television to expect minor cataclysms. But this I had forgotten from the storms of my childhood:

The aftermath.

The sky is so tender. Alien oranges and yellows in the evening, innocent blue the next day. Strangers emerge from their homes to survey the damage together. Backyard borders disappear. Fences already bent by giant branches fall completely when we clear them in concert.

It is the hurricane that taught me my neighbors’ names.

July 20, 2011

The Drought

I have heard there is rain elsewhere, in neighboring valleys. Travelers who come over the hills tell of green fields and full wells. This is their medicine. We get stoned on hope. But I am terrified—as are we all—to climb to the hilltop and find only wheatgold dead grass to the horizon. Oh, we could walk on and on, but see plain enough no clouds. We are safe, at least, at the heart of the valley.

My son plays on a tire swing hanging from a desiccated oak. The leaves have singed but are too light to fall, no wind to scatter them. The swing’s ropes have begun to fray—maybe a week before they snap. My boy knows, and swings gently.

In the drought we have lost ourselves. Or perhaps the selves were never ours to lose, only brought and renewed by the rain. Is there some essential me in the vapors hanging over hot asphalt after thundershowers? If so, we are blameless for forgetting how to live.

I kiss you but I do not kiss you. We are missing more than water; not our lips alone are dry. We wake, we eat; we work; we sleep; and this all meant something with clouds rising and gathering. Here under flawless blue, all bereft of water, we have begun to evaporate.

And I am too dry for this to frighten me.

April 21, 2011

The Water Tree

New to Things Lost and Found? Start here.

This happened not very long ago. I have other Stories that came before this one—even the Story that begins all Stories—but remember this one too. It is the first Story of the Last Storyteller.

            We woke, Fess and I, bloody, sweaty, and thirsty. The Clay-People sat around us, humming soft songs to ease us back to the world. Fess had woken first, always the strong Hunter.

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