Vaganto (excerpt)

Io’s Journal
68 t.s.s. 243 p.s.

The sun rose on the first suncycle. Morning chatter, warming rocks, geckos creeping from their holes, spilled light, a smoothing mist, tree oils steaming, the color of limestone, a leaf moving in animal ways, the ant jibing the leaf like a sail, cow shuffling, the stout acacia, a nick of blood, a scuttled bird quarrel, the smell of a living thing, of life, glands, saliva, sweat, hair, and original/primordial/mother dirt. Dirt works its way into the living thing, not as clearly as water, no, water can be seen going in and out of the body, but dirt must come at night, in the dreams, a terrestrial succubus, to whisper, you belong to me, to never let the body forget. The smell of life is the smell of dirt. 

Always, dirt breathes, its exhalations verdant and quivering, one cell panting into two. As it inhales, those cell walls are breached, collapsing, dying, being remade. Always, things breaking, things falling, getting lower. My old man, getting lower, his brittle bones, getting lower, down the mountain, far from me, his corrupted child. 

The door to his room was open, his pack gone. 

I didn’t hear the insects, or see the light, I couldn’t smell the fresh sweat of dew. The breath of life was being held. 

I sat in the doorway for several hours. The sun was rising behind me. I didn’t watch it. 

Twenty earthcycles ago I found him here, packing mud into bricks, stacking bricks into walls. I set my pack down and got to work. Together we created this two room building with an open corridor through the middle, joined by a dwarf palm roof. 

Twenty earthcycles ago I didn’t set out to find him, but while passing through the region, I heard rumours. That the infamous Judge was in the area. That he had relinquished his old life and disappeared into the hills. I chased down every rumour, tracked every clue, put myself in his shoes and walked for what seemed like forever.

I hadn’t seen him since I was a child. Between us passed whole oceans of silence and regret. Slowly we rebuilt ourselves just as we built this home. The length of my life doubled here, the second half in relative peace. Now he’s gone again, and I won’t look for him. He can come back if he chooses. I’ll be here. 

Evening came. I made a fire and left it burning too late. 

When the fire was almost out, I lit a lantern. I laid on my straw mat and stared up at the palm roof. The slender curves and criss-crosses, jittering. Too many lines and shadows to remember, but I tried anyway.