A TOAST – project “IT'S PERSONAL”

A TOAST – project “IT'S PERSONAL”

They were strangers a week ago.

Now, that the heat wave brought them together under the shelter of the old man’s hut, they were getting more and more intoxicated with talking, sharing yarns from their past and not so far away days and some really nice red wine.  The old recluse was self-reliant with a little garden and few goats.  The young man was on his way, running from some previous fate, ready to stumble on some subsequent…  They met down in the valley, at the whirlpool of the river.

The scorching days were breathing hot air right in their faces and in the evenings the darkness would still pant warmth from the dusty flesh of the ground.

At the doorsteps of its end, the hot day squatted down, farewelling the burning sun and threw a shawl of darkness over its shoulders with a promise of coolness.  The two men were sitting on the tiled yard, roofed all over with vines which heavy breasted grapes were hanging down seductively.  The young man winched bucket water from the well and threw it on the thirsty slates.  Smell of wet dust tickled their nostrils.  The older man dragged his aching legs to the back of the hut where he stored his homemade wine and brought another demijohn.  Food wasn’t much.  There was hardly any need for food in these hot days – just a few pieces of cured meat, brined cheese from the goats’ milk, freshly picked vegetables from the garden and bread.  The table had become the refuge for their bare souls and neither of them was timid; neither of them tried to swathe their lives.

Patience and some kind of self-content were all over the face of the old recluse as he listened to the young man’s recollections.   Somehow he would see all the same trials and tribulations that crossed the path of his own life back in his younger days…

When the night got too old and heavy and swallowed the stars, the darkness rolled over pregnant with a cold freshness of the approaching morning.  The men knew that it was time to rest their heads on pillows.  Maybe one last glass of nice red wine?...  Last one...  The old man rubbed his sore back with one hand and poured wine into their glasses with the other.  As he was passing the drink to his stranger-friend, he said, in deep, echoing like a church bell, voice:

“It is your birthday today, you know.”

“Nooo, it’s not”, looked at him the younger one.  “Not for another few months.”

“Well”, insisted the old man, “I would say it is”.  And he sat back in his old chair, looking the young man straight in the eye; waiting for a reaction.

And the young one gave him just that – he mirroringly laid back into his chair and looked straight back at his collocutor.  He was a good learner.  He was a good listener.

“A man is born when he crosses over his past to continue the road that lies ahead”, stated plainly the aged man.  “I think today is your birthday,” he proclaimed again.

He raised himself slowly out of his chair, holding his back for support, for balance; he went into his garden, looked around and scooped something from the ground.  When he came back, he placed down gently onto the table, there in front of the young man, a lump of soil with a little seedling of an oak tree that had the tiniest of roots, sticking out like little spider’s legs.

“Here is my present to you, my friend!  For your birthday”, explained the wise man.

He reached for the glass of wine, stood up and with respectful and genuine expression saluted:

“I drink to your coffin!”

“I drink to your coffin made from a hundred-years-old oak that I’ve planted today!”

© 2016 copyright | an ode to… |sophia terra~ziva| ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

THIS AIN’T AN ENTRY FOR THE SHORTEST STORY COMPETITION

THIS AIN’T AN ENTRY FOR THE SHORTEST STORY COMPETITION

THE SONG OF SONGS – project “IT'S PERSONAL”

THE SONG OF SONGS – project “IT'S PERSONAL”