Monday, December 21, 2015

Searcher

SearcherMalek opened his eyes again and stared at the dust motes playing through the warm ray of morning sunlight, swirling like microscopic leaves in a river current. "Why are we here? I mean seriously, how did we get so far away from home? From things familiar? And you know I'm not just talking about what we've just eaten for breakfast!"

"I think I want to tell you a story," Alani said, sipping her tea with a distant look in her eyes as if she hadn't even heard him.

Malek chuckled. "Yeah okay, sure; as long as it isn't one I've heard a dozen times already!"

"There was a man once," she continued, nearly interrupting him. "I shouldn't mention his name, especially not here. Let's just call him 'Searcher' for now. He was everywhere, in mind, and he always was looking for something... though he didn't quite know what that was. But he ventured to all the faraway places in search of it: Mountains, valleys, cities, fields, islands, rivers...."

Intrigued by this change of mood in his ordinarily blunt and not-so-reflective sister, Malek poured more water into both their cups, kicked his feet up on the wooden table, and sat back to listen.

"As this Searcher traveled, he got better at knowing where to look; he became more and more aware of life. As for why he was searching, all he knew was that the longing came from deep within him. Like a hunger it ate at him, burned him to go on. Any mode of travel would do... and he found that there are lots of them."

Outside the inn, a horse plodded down the muddy lane, its belled harness jingling in lazy rhythm with the occasional shouts of an old woman hawking her wares in an unintelligible dialect.

"Like traveling whilst smashed in-between a couple of crates and the edge of a cart that's been tied way too close to the stinky ass of the ox that's drawing it!"

This comment caused a corner of Alani's mouth to turn slowly upward. "Yes," she shuddered, "Like that. Anyway, as I was saying before you so rudely interrupted--"

"I was just--"

"Shush."

"Fine," he smirked, picking a piece of tea leaf from his teeth.

"So this Searcher traveled the world using every means imaginable. He explored for years, decades even, until his whiskers grew grey and his back bent crooked. Still, in the end he found nothing. Nothing at all."

Malek squinted, waiting for the punch line. His sister lit her pipe and gazed pensively out the window. "And?" he finally asked.

"And what? That's the end of the story."

"Well that's stupid."

"I know you are but what am I."

He let out an exaggerated guffaw. But the story had unnerved Malek, and unbidden thoughts were flooding his mind. Of screams in the dark, of those words their father had forced them to memorize before he would let them flee that final, fateful night....

Malek placed his mug down on the table, nearly knocking it over, and strode abruptly toward the door. He paused before walking out. "You're wrong, you know."

"Am I?" His sister said.

"This is different. We'll find her."

"Am I?" She mocked, a dark look in her eyes.

"Shut up. And yes, you are. I know we'll find her."

"...am I?"

On his way out, Malek slammed the door shut a lot harder than he'd meant to.



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