I desire to share with you all a sample of my craft, a prologue for a thing I just started writing and may never finish.
It was a bright fall morning, the deep red leaves waving from maple branches among a forest of evergreen. The air was pleasantly nippy as I climbed the auburn steps to the cottage. It was a day for remembering, for relaxing; the harvest had been brought in, and I had been taken by a wistful nostalgia for childhood.
I had no real reason to be there, I suppose. The cottage and the elderly man within were not of family. Yet he was like a second father to me, in a way, the mentor that taught me how to drive, to shoot, to fight, to hunt. He taught me the wonders of electricity, just as my own father taught me the joys of working with one’s hands. You see, when I first met him, we didn’t have many of the things you take for granted today. They existed in the stories, in the rebuilding cities, but not in this small haven in the mountains, not in those days before the trade caravans once more rode over Cascadia Pass.
The man of the house didn’t have any family. I guess that’s why I went to him. He had been feeling ill, and deep down, I knew nobody would check on him. But he was always a tough one. Once he broke his leg in two places, set it himself, built a crutch, and walked back to his home in the dead of winter. I found him in his library, a fire on his hearth, an empty chair beside him. He didn’t read much, anymore, his vision fading from years of detailed craftsmanship, long nights, and hardship. Still, he kept his library where most keep their family rooms, surrounded by books now closed from his grasp forever.
He motioned to the chair beside him, his hand shaking. A smile slowly crinkled a tanned, lined face, a wordless greeting from a trusted mentor and old friend. We sat together in silence for a time, his breathing slow and rough, punctuated by a cough that had plagued him sporadically as long as I’d known him. As the sun broke full over the tops of the trees, in broken sentences, he began to talk.
This is the story he told.