Traveler

It was a hard mountain,” I told him. “A great slab of bone that cut off the sun. The gods drew a curtain from the rock face and darkened the town every afternoon. The locals did not mind, it was all they knew. Short days meant shorter crops, and so the hardest of their labor was in the morning. They grew beans and potatoes and wheat – there was no lack of water – and they cultivated the plants young. There were silos in the middle of town, and a garden in the common area filled with sprawling plants like cucumbers and tomatoes. I saw pasture land between the two rivers, and the cattle grazed on soft yellow grass. It looked like a place you would find in a….”

In a dream?”

I was going to say in a photograph. The mountain, though, was terrible. A deep hard scar that covered the town every afternoon. Sometimes, in a certain light, the mountain looked like it was bleeding.”

How did you get here?” he asked.

I don’t know.”

Do you think maybe there’s a problem with that?”

I know there is. I don’t know how to answer that question.”

He jotted in his notebook. “How much do you drink, Silas?”

Too much. It’s why I’m here. Or why I’m not there.”

What do you think is more real?” He tapped my knee three times. “You feel that, right? It’s not smoke, or an illusion. It’s a physical sensation.”

It was a physical sensation there, too.” I thought about it. “Maybe I’m some kind of traveler.”

Or maybe you drink too much.”

That’s been established.”

Tell me how you got to this mountain town. Where were you before you came upon it?”

I walked. I made a promise to someone.”

Tell me.”

I could barely remember, but: “I left the hollow land behind. There was a woman….”

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