A Journey Home

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I’d been wanderin’ ‘et desert fer longer ‘an I could remember.  It’s all I knew.  Don’t ask me how I got ‘ere, crawlin’ on my belly suckin’ the dew off o’ rocks at dawn, fishin’ m’self ‘tween ‘e shadows o’ boulders, doin’ nothin’ but doin’ an’ re-doin’, ‘cuz I cain’t reckon it.  Cain’t say as how I got there.  The soles o’ my boots ‘es thin as parchment.  I could feel each ‘n every grain o’ sand when I walkt.  All o’ me was shriveled.  I think e’en my eye balls ‘es wrinkled.  I felt like I ‘es assorbed by some’n’ dry an’ look like everlastin’.  An’ yet I weren’t.  It weren’t.

I just walkt.

There ain’t no direction out ‘ere.  I had some shelter once.  I gotta’ memory… an old one… turnin’ my back on a heap o’ boards.  Walkin’ away.  I was desperately afeared, leavin’ ’em sticks.  Thought fer sure I was gonna’ die on ‘count of it.  They was my marker, my spot in the world, the only thing I knew ‘es mine, an’ I was turnin’ my back on it.  They was my home, but I reckon I was just clingin’ to it like a broke urchin.  That dust ‘es comin’ fer me.  All my tools was broke.  ‘Et water ‘dun dried up.  Left me marooned with ’em sticks.  Me an’ ’em sticks was desperate.  I reckon I was gonna’ die no count.

I just walkt.

You walk like I did, an’ you is broke down an’ busted, ‘an you ain’t got nothin’ left ‘e fight with, ‘en stoppin’ hurts.  It makes ye’ think.  You cain’t hide y’self from it, and you start walkin’ a’gin pretty quick.  ‘Em thoughts hang on you in ‘et desert like buzzin’ flies.  Like ghosts.   You wake up an’ they chokin’ ye’ mouth dry.  They drive ye’.  Haunt ye’.  You cain’t stop an’ have peace with ’em hangin’ on ye’.  But you walk long enough an’ maybe you start givin’ ’em up.  Sheddin’ ’em like skins.  They burn off m’be an’ you whittle down to raw sticks, down t’ them bones deep in ye’.

I ‘es jes’ like ‘et.  Whittled down ta’ jes’ walkin’.

Fist thing ‘et came was a bird.  He came an’ fluttered ‘n sung me somethin’ at dawn.  I couldn’t hardly give it a what fer, couldn’t hardly turn my head ‘n look at it.  I was thinkin’ ’bout dyin’ an’ livin’ inside them rocks.  One little bird changed me’ round, tho’, peeked at me sideways an’ told me somethin’ I cain’t remember, an’ I got up off the ground.  Then I started walkin’ a’gin.

Second thing ‘et came was a snake.  I musta’ fell down an’ slept, an’ I musta’ kept ’em warm ‘cuz I woke up with ‘et snake wrapt up right round me.  Long time ago an’ I woulda’ killt it right off, but I was lonelier ‘an ’em boards I left on ‘et desert hill, lonelier ‘an you can reckon, ‘an I just moved ‘et snake to the side.  An’ he jes’ let me.  I got up off ‘et ground ‘an I just walkt.

I seen that man up on ‘et ridge next.  A coal-black figure framed by a sun so bright it like ta’ knock me down.  I fell straight over.  I laid back an’ lookt up at that man, an’ I couldn’t barely make ’em out.  My hand ‘es like a visor, holdin’ back ‘et light.  He ‘es just a black shape, but I knew he ‘es jus’ lookin’ right back, straight inta’ me.  I was in ‘et tractor beam o’ his.  I cain’t reckon it, but ‘et’s when I started knowin’ things.  Little things.  Knowin’ which way ta’ walk.  Knowin’ when ta’ rest.  Not always, but jes’ ‘et little bit ‘l make ‘et difference you need out ‘ere.  It’s ’nuff to let ‘et breeze sneak up on ye’ once in a while.

I found ’em dried up crick beds hewn outta’ ’em rocks, them veins o’ shadow ‘et make their crooked way ‘crost ‘et land.  I just walkt in ’em fer a while, watchin’ out fer m’ ankles.  Long ways I just walkt.  Knowin’ jes’ little things.  Every time I like ta’ give up, when I lay right down an’ like ta’ dream off and get gone, ‘et man filled up my mind.  I felt him jes’ lookin’ at me, an’ jes’ like ‘et bird, he gave me somethin’, an’ I got up on my feet.

I walkt.

Somehow I reckoned I weren’t walkin’ all alone like I ‘dun thought.  ‘Et thought just descended down on me.  ‘Et thought came down slow an’ gentle, like a green leaf dropt outta’ the sun five thousan’ years ago, driftin’ to an’ fro up in ‘et sky fer years an’ years, wanderin’ jes’ like me, ridin’ some wind I couldn’t reckon.  All ‘et time an’ it landed right on me, ‘et thought.

It was a thought like to make ’em other thoughts clean out. I kept ‘et with me.  A thought like ‘et don’t come too often on ye, an’ I kep’ it safe inside me.

Somehow I found ‘et water.  I laid on my belly an’ found it.  It ‘es in ‘et crick bed, waitin’ on me.  Weren’t nothin’ else around.  It were jes’ a little bit, and I drank it.  I thought m’be I ‘es gonna’ make it, then, but I cain’t reckon it.  I didn’t know where I ‘es gonna’ make it to.  I just knew I could feel ‘et feelin’ movin’ up on me.  Somethin’ were changin’ in ‘et land, m’be in me, too.  I could know little things, an’ I thought m’be them things ‘es gonna’ be enough.

‘Ventually I came on a house.  Lookt like my house ’bout the time my tools an’ ‘et water give out.  Just boards an’ knot holes.  Places fer things ‘e leak out an’ back in.  I opened ‘et front door an’ I seen ‘et man, jes’ waitin’ on me.  That’s the first big thing I ever known.  I knew he ‘es waitin’ on me ‘et whole time.  Checkin’ up on me.  He didn’t need ta’ say nothin’.  I could tell he knew me an’ probably every thin’ I ever ‘dun.  He gave me ‘et glass o’ water an’ I saw ‘et tear in his eye, an’ I knew he ‘es happy.  An’ I felt ‘et tear move right in me, an’ come back outta’ my own eye.  I knew I made it.

These ‘er jes’ little things ‘et happen to ye.

I ‘es out ‘ere in ‘et desert findin’ my way back to ’em, ‘cuz like I said, I lost ’em an’ I cain’t reckon how.  An’ I jes’ hadta’ walk.  He helpt me, ‘et man.  He askt me if I ‘es ready ta’ give up ’em ole’ boots ‘n rest a while.   That’s when I felt m’self give some’n over, some’n I’d been carryin all ‘et way an’ didn’t know it.  I felt ‘et thing give way down in me, an’ slide out through the holes in ’em planks, an’ slide down in ’em rocks an’ sand, an I remembered then ‘et we’d always knowed ‘et moment.  We’d always known it’d be like ‘et.  That ‘es the second big thing ‘et came to me.  We’d never been apart.  ‘Et man an’ me, we’d always knowed it’d end like ‘et.  We’d wound an’ wound round some kinda’ time, wound round each other, ’round some kinda’ dream, an’ we knew it’d end up in ‘et house.

I cain’t reckon now how I found m’ way back ‘ere.  Or how I lost it.  I just know it ‘es always in me.  We walkt out back, ‘en- outta’ ‘et house, an’ et’s when I seen ‘et grass.  Jus’ green in all directions, an’ filled with ’em people I loved an’ dun fergot ’bout, all standin’ ‘ere waitin’ on me.  All of ’em.  ‘Et crowd filled up ‘et meadow, all ’em faces up to the horizon, ‘n I remembered ‘en ‘et I was home.

I laughed so hard m’ body shook like ta’ tear apart, an’ I forgot ‘et desert ever was.

1 Comment

  1. Interesting story.

    The dialect vaguely reminds me of my ex-best friend. He was from TN. He didn’t like ‘hickspeak’ much, though he had a southern accent. My friend was kind of crazy (brilliant, but crazy) though…which is part of why we had to part ways.

    I’m trying to interpret this part:
    “We’d wound an’ wound round some kinda’ time, wound round each other, ’round some kinda’ dream, an’ we knew it’d end up in ‘et house.”

    What exactly does that mean?


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