The letter

The letter was written in old-man’s scrawl: small letters, densely packed, in blue ink. The writing was legible, but it made the boy squint. There was little space between the words. They were like boxcars mashing down a hard grade.

You will always miss the mountain. It will aggrieve and chaff you, and your bones will crack under its weight. You will mourn hard when you leave. The stillness is in you, and it will live in you and it will follow you into the darkness. You will leave this mountain in spite because you are young and have an appetite for sidewalks and sit-down restaurants and jazz drifting out of doorways. These are good things, and a boy should know them. He should write them down in his history book. He should feel the trumpet against his lips. He should provoke folks to dance and hoot like their legs are afire. You will do those things, and your sweat will be honest and your ledgers will be true. Those appetites will fill you fast, and your need for hush will outrun you. Boy, you will come back. One day you will come back.

The letter was written on old foolscap, undated, unsigned. It was addressed to him. He was ten years old and he had never left.

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6 thoughts on “The letter

  1. I used to tramp the mountains of Pennsylvania with a squirrel rifle or a rabbit shotgun or my sleek 30.06 straining to see if antlers sprouted between the ears of a too far off deer. The animals will live to the end of their time without my interruption as I don’t hunt anymore. And the few years between when I didn’t venture out ended when a Nikon replaced the Remington tramping back up the mountain just a little slower with age. I guess the old man was right, though it was work and kids not jazz or painted ladies that pulled me away. In March I will begin tramping from Springer Mountain intent upon following the mountains and valleys north to Maine on the Appalachian trail. A basket full of mountain and forest. I hope to write a bit about it.

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