The Roots of a Man

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Very odd yet intriguing short story I plan to one day reshape and fix the loose ends of. May you enjoy it :)

Submitted: May 25, 2017

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Submitted: May 25, 2017



There was that familiar echo which was bred and rooted in the hollow forest. The richness of the land exposed mangled trunks which clung to ancient trees cradled into Earth as if it were an infant being stolen by a stranger. On this daybreak, however, there was no stranger. Only an old friend to those glorius forests - unassuming and gravely calm. The friend was an elder who had trekked these mountains for days as his soul seemed to be frantically searching for something in these woods.

He strolled smoothly onto the muddy dirt path flooded by the misty droplets falling like military parachutes on his worn, aged cloak and top hat. He refused the new age not as a sign of rebellion, but as a pursuit of nature who whispered to him like a lost lover begging his presence. But he was like Father Time and his loyalty belonged solely to himself and his perspective alone.

He never faltered as he carefully stepped over the gigantic roots entangled between his legs. He kept walking with his cloak sweeping the side of his right peg leg which creaked from the stress of the amble. The cloak got stuck in his artificial leg and he stopped briefly to pluck it out of the giant crack that had earlier split the wood on it. A small branded seal in the peg was stamped on – the Latin words "Semper Fi" scrolled elegantly within the grains of the wooden peg leg.

It was in fact the only elegant thing of that time for him. Seeing the seal made him remember the shrapnel falling beside him as he yelled out to his friend to duck for cover and shielding his eyes from the blinding light. He shivered as he glared absent-mindedly at the seal. Shuddering with the cold, damp rain, he warmed his hands and smoothed out his gray beard which was frayed and layered like harvested hay in the Autumn.

He continued walking in the fog-riddled forest to his destination – wherever it may be. He had been strolling through these trees for three days now, not losing energy in his stride. The clouds above were not present where he was – it was instead the smog of a hungry beast that begged his attention.

The beast that was within him was not fierce – it was sorrowful. The agony of the beast this man carried was heavier than anything he'd ever felt. He couldn't cry about the beasts he kept for he was a strong fellow with the conviction and peace to rival that of Octavian's Pax Romana. His internal beast, however, spread throughout his body over the course of six months. The doctor said that it may go away. But it hadn't. And it wouldn't. He was, as expected, at peace with that. He had everything he ever wanted in life, given by the fruit of the trees in nature over his lifetime. Even though the fruit was sometimes bitter or rotten by the sweaty sun that allured May beetles and pesty gnats. Sometimes the fruit was bittersweet with divine love and passionate hate pulling him in every direction. But no matter where he ended up, there was always fruit to keep him alive. And now the beast inside of his body ravaged his bones and made his teeth grit every time they stuck a needle in him at that clinical, polished hospital. He would stare at the room number for hours while he numbed himself. He was shoved into the back of that discreet room like a hermit with no real home. And so he sat. He stared. He would get off of that hospital gurney with the metal railing that confined him and lie on those polished floors for hours as he listened to the various nurses cross back and forth the hallways to more pertinent patients. The hospital he stayed in for those six months while they tried to treat his terminal illness reminded him of that war so many years ago that broke his heart deeper than any first love, and harder than any family funeral. He didn't know what pain was until they threw him on a table near the warzone while he bled like a freshly gutted pig. They slapped his leg on that table, threw him a bottle of Jack, and sawed off the bone like a tree trunk. By the end of that primitive surgery, his leg was purple and splotched like rotten blood sausage left out in the sun to scab up like a raisin.

But he was feeling fine for now, and that was many moons ago when his face still resembled a naive young man.

The rain in nature had rescued his soul once more, and no matter how dark the forest made his face wrinkle, or how many thornbushes made his sagging hands bleed, he was home. Because nature provided all creatures with a home – even hermits.

His journey finally ended when he saw it. He didn't know what he was looking for until he found it. A crevasse below the forest stretched beyond his misty, gray eyes. He threw his walking stick beside him and sat upon that stone wall above the crevasse and sighed in relief. Gliding his hands gently to his leg, he removed the cracked peg and held it for a moment. Semper Fi. He rubbed the wood grains between his palms and thought of the best friend he had in war. He wasn't sure what to do with the leg, as it had been with him since the day they hacked him from the thigh.

He decided to throw it off of the cliff after some careful deliberation. And as he watched it fall effortlessly down the crevasse - like a tumbling acrobat - he could have sworn that it looked like his friend when the shrapnel hit him and threw him down the trench. Graceful in slow motion. Bittersweet like most of the fruit in nature. Sitting on the boulder, he closed his gray eyes as the sun penetrated the surrounding forest, and he stretched himself outward like a starfish on a lazy beach. The beast inside of him turned into a welcoming home - he knew it was time. He drew one more breath before feeling his gray eyes turn to a glassy, ice blue. His heart smoothed out to a dying, glowing heartbeat slowly pittering into a hollow echo matching the deep forest that was now behind him

© Copyright 2018 Kylee Carrier. All rights reserved.

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