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.