Universe W-2020: The Old Man’s Cabin 1
Stars Wink From The Void
A cotton ball of a cloud floats in the sky above an archaic cabin built atop a mysterious mountain deep in a forest, a solitary puff of white amongst a sea of deep blues.
This cabin, the only man-made structure for miles, is inhabited solely by an old man who’s lived here since he was just a man. Behind the cabin the old man keeps a rather humbling garden where he grows all the food the local deer population could possibly eat, and then some for himself. The garden’s divided by six footpaths that branch the outer rim to the inner; in the center, a ring of pink and purple stones surround a circle of supple grass; this is the old man’s meditation circle. Some of the stones are covered in wax from old candles, whilst others balance hand-carved incense boards caked with ash. The grass grows green, vibrant as polished jade.
Every morning the old man would rise from his bed, stretch his stiff and aching body, and walk outside to meditate in the center. On special occasions he would light an incense stick, but usually he’d stick with one of his many lavender candles. Lavender is a scent the old man absolutely adores, he grows the soothing herb in his garden and infuses the wax with the essence of the plants. Like he would always tell his visitors, “What you believe is true is true to you;” to the old man, lavender has a calming effect that can’t be trumped by even the Western world’s most potent medicine. And so it does.
Unfortunately, the old man hasn’t had many visitors to his cabin during the past few years. In fact, he probably couldn’t recall when the last time someone came to visit him was, although he could tell you all about the visitor in question. He wasn’t certain why they had all suddenly stopped coming, but it didn’t bother him. He enjoys being in the company of others as much as he enjoys being in his own company, something he learned once he began living amongst the denizens of the forest. When you talk to animals, you’re really just talking to yourself; might as well go full throttle with it.
As the cloud moves out from underneath the gleaming sun, a stray beam of gold shines its way through a window in the old man’s bedroom. It illuminates him right in the face, the soft light gracefully blanketing his aged and wrinkled skin like snowfall in the tundra. He wakes up but does not immediately open his eyes; he wants to savor this moment for a bit longer, and so he does, the mattress beneath him rustling as he rolls back and forth in an attampt to make himself comfortable. His bed is ancient and beat, the only mattress the old man has ever owned, and he keeps it stuffed with various grasses and soft leaves he finds around the forest. By the end of a long day of tending the garden, it’s comfortable enough for him. He’s happy with it, what more can one ask for?
The old man’s eyes open with a creeaak as his own little world slowly wakes up with him. He sits up, slightly dazed, and lets his feet fall and make contact with the old, worn wooden flooring. Next to his bed is a small, handcrafted birch nightstand that a visitor had given to him very long ago. A charming young fellow, at the time he was battling familial demons and needed to be away from it all; he was welcomed with open arms. The young man loved being out in nature, he had told our old man, almost as much as he enjoyed smoking herbs but not quite as much as he wanted to learn the ways of woodworking. He wanted to make pipes, hand-made wooden pipes, sell them to the world, and spread his spirit and aura wherever the Universe deems it needed, but he had no tools, no experience. So, after a meditation session, the old man taught the young man to build a nightstand, and they put it in the old man’s bedroom. The best part, the nightstand was made solely from wood the young man found in the forest surrounding the old man’s cabin. The old man treasures this nightstand, and the memory.
Atop his birch nightstand sits a few trinkets the old man has accumulated over the years, some gifts from travelers and some of his own creations. Beneath the leather-bound field guide lays his notebook where he keeps a journal of his dreams, meditative visions, and encounters he shares with his visitors. Beside the books sits a handmade incense board with a rune shaped like a tree burned into it, a gift for the visitor who made him the nightstand. The piece has sat upon the nightstand since the table was brought into the world, yet the old man still hasn’t given up hope that his friend will return.
Neighboring the incense board, a tiny clay pot sprouts a small Cannabis seedling; when the plant is mature and ready, it will be transplanted into the garden with its brothers and sisters. These days the old man will only introduce one new plant into his garden at a time, regardless of species, and he keeps the seedlings in his room with him until they’re big enough to survive on their own; the Cannabis just happens to be the only plant the old man’s bringing up right now. There’s also a corncob pipe and a lighter next to a stone mortar and pestle, gifts from a young hippie woman who, like the old man, enjoys going on adventures in the woods. This very same young woman introduced the old man to the Cannabis – he had grown up believing the herb was the Devil’s cabbage, and by the time he moved out into the woods, he had completely forgotten that it existed. The young woman, memorable for her unbridled energy and free-spiritedness, always carried the gentlest smile on her face when she would visit the old man. The girl had a good heart – she once hiked seven miles through the snow just to make sure the old man had enough blankets to last the winter. She first visited, oh, about ten years ago, coming back a few times before she brought the Cannabis and a few more times before the old man was curious enough to take a toke. On her last trip up the mountain, she brought the old man his pipe, the grinder, a few lighters, and a small bag of flower, and that was the visit that he finally smoked. She hasn’t been back since.
The old man reminisces on how grateful he is towards this woman for teaching him the ways of using Cannabis to ease his mind as he lifts the pipe to his lips to fill his lungs with, as she called it, the holy smokes. He burns once he wakes and before he sleeps, and occasionally during a stroll through his backyard wilderness. He also collects extra seeds from the plants and eats them as a light snack; they’re very nutritious.
Sitting up on his bed, the old man reaches out and gently brushes his hand against one of the leaves of his plant. The soft greenery is cool to the touch, but the old man has trouble feeling it through his tough, callused hide. He looks around his room and sets his sights on the squishy, green yoga mat rolled up against the far wall, a relic from a life before the cabin. The mat is old and worn, just like the old man – he thinks it gives the thing character. The mat is rolled out flat over the wooden planks, but before the old man can sit down and stretch his legs, he notices movement out of the corner of his eye.
Perched on the windowsill stands a small gray bird with a bright orange belly, studying the old man. This bird comes to say hello on some mornings, always landing in the same spot on the sill. The old man knows it’s the same bird too, it’s the only bird he’s ever seen with two differently colored eyes – one purple and one blue. He had never seen such unique beauty in a bird before, and the first time he noticed it, he was completely taken aback, musing in wonder as the little creature hopped about and sung its songs on his windowsill. Today, he just smiles and sits down on his worn old mat, silently hoping the bird is one of his old visitors that has passed through the great transition, sent to check on him by the Great Spirit. Or maybe the bird just likes to be alone, away from the others of its kind. Just like the old man.
Ancient muscles creak and joints crack as the old man stretches his legs. He used to have a well thought out stretching routine with plyometric and dynamic exercises, but now he just wriggles his body around on the mat until he feels noodly enough. This works for him. Once he’s as limber as a near-centennial can be, he flips over and does a few yoga poses; they’re good for his lower back. His favorite is the sphinx – he would lay with his legs behind him, torso propped up by his elbows in a pose resembling the great Sphynx statue of ancient Egypt. The stretch makes his lower back tingle and he believes it will keep him feeling loose and comfortable all day. And so it does.
Wrapping the yogic ritual, the old man rolls his mat back up and checks if the birdie is still visiting. Unfortunately it’s not, it seems to have flown off for bluer skies. No matter, the old man is sure he’ll see the peculiar little thing again soon. He comes into contact with animals fairly often out here in his forest; foxes, bears, squirrels, chipmunks. Once, he was out taking a nap by a pond when he was woken up by a deer licking his face.
With his mat back in its place, the old man walks out into the main room of his cabin. It’s not a large cave, roofing only three rooms: his bedroom, a guest bedroom, and the open main room. He always makes sure to keep the guest room extra tidy, even after so many years without a single visitor, just in case someone pops in.
Before he heads outside into his garden, the old man takes a peek into the guest room. It’s cleaner, larger, and more decorated than his own bedroom; he walks over to the queen-sized mattress and fluffs up the pillows. This bed is one of the few store-bought objects in his possession; the old man always preferred the hand-made versions of, well, everything. Even when he was a child, he had crafted his own toys modeled after the characters he would make up to star in the stories he would tell his friends. It kept him entertained enough and his parents loved it because they never had to spend any money on toys – his upbringing was not one of wealth and fortune, and every dollar counted.
Covering the bed is a large quilt woven as a gift to the old man by his lover; the quilt is very old at this point, and the lover had passed away some time ago. She had never gotten the chance to see the cabin, unfortunately, although she would absolutely adore it if she was still here today. They designed the cabin together about a month before she passed; it and the quilt were her final gifts to the old man, although he wasn’t aware of it at the time. The quilt is a beautiful shade of violet with an intricate white fractal pattern woven into it, likely inspired by his love’s fascination with magic and mysticism. The old man walks over and places his hand on the blanket, feeling the soft material with his aged and cracking palm. He sighs as he feels the aura of the weave wrap around his hand; they reminisce together over the many picnics and camping trips the blanket was brought on. But that, he reminds himself, was a long time ago.
The rest of the room is decorated with homemade furniture and various gifts from his past visitors. The young hippie woman once brought her friend who liked to paint up the mountain, along with enough canvasses and painting supplies for all three of them to paint together for an entire afternoon; this is one of the old man’s fondest memories. He does not know what compelled him to paint an empty grass field with a single tree growing out of it, but the piece came out well enough. The young woman painted a lovely purple fungal piece, and the painter chose the old man’s cabin as her focus point. One painting hangs on each wall.
As his trip down memory lane finishes its detour, the old man walks back into his bedroom, grabs a lighter, and exits the cabin out the back door. Strolling through his garden, he admires the plethora of plants living up here with him. He has herbs, fruits, vegetables, flowers, even some fungus capping up here and there. Visitors used to bring seeds of various edible plants and herbs to the old man to grow, and he transplanted some local berry bushes and flowers into the garden as well, so the bees would have plenty of pollen. One plant catches his eye today – a wineberry bush with bushels upon bushels of ripe red wineberries, their bright scarlet druplets cast brilliantly aglow in the sunlight. He steps over a sage bush and plucks a few berries from the thorny branches of the shrubbery, being careful not to get poked.
One hand full of juicy berries, the old man continues toward the circle in the middle of his garden as he eats his breakfast one morsel at a time. They taste incredible, a concentrated natural sweet mixed with just enough suggestions of sour; he can’t help but smile as he dumps the rest of the berries into his mouth. They’re simply too delectable to eat one at a time, it wouldn’t be right in the old man’s mind. The taste reminds him of springtime, so fresh and vibrant; what a way to start the morning.
He steps over the rocks and onto the soft grass of the meditation circle. Of all the vegetation in his garden, the old man tends to this small patch of grass the most. The grass grows here naturally; before the old man built his cabin on this spot it was a vast open field, a platoasis of plainland poking out near the pinnacle of the peak. The old man knows of a few spots on the mountain similar to this one, though none of them quite as vast. At the time of construction, the old man loved the idea of living all the way out in the woods, away from the daily drama and calamitous catastrophes of the word called real. After living in the cabin for so many years, he couldn’t fathom going back.
The old man sits down in his circle with his legs folded in front of him. Savage style, they used to call it when he was a child. He places his hands palm-down on his knees and breathes in deeply through his nose and out through his mouth. He feels a calming sensation flow through his body as he exhales, the sun shining on his face making him feel warm and comfortable like a caterpillar snuggled inside a cocoon. Before beginning this morning’s session, the old man has trouble deciding whether to light a candle or an incense; usually incenses are only lit for very special occasions, and as far as he can tell, today is about as normal as it gets. Something deep within the old man is telling him to light an incense though, something emphatic, something unignorable, and so he does, and smoke wisps gently from the tip, the stream smelling of honey, sage, and lavender, his favorite incense. This was the last stick he had in his possession, yet for some reason he knew ‘twas the perfect scent to choose.
From the outside, the old man appears to be sitting still, doing nothing, motionless as a statue, left behind to sit solitarily by a world that stays in motion. From the inside of his mind, however, the outer world is that which freezes, shattering into a mosaic before it slowly chips away one tile at a time. The old man concentrates only on his breathing, the air filling and emptying from his lungs, focusing, his mind quiet, body still and spirit very alive. He feels a slight pressure in his forehead, right between his eyebrows, as if his brain was poking him; this is common for the old man during meditation. What isn’t common is the vision he has: a man, nay, two men joined at the center of their body, one half sporting long, gray hair whilst the other wears a fedora over long black hair. The strange being walks up the mountain and enters the old man’s cabin in search of guidance, but the old man is not there. An old man is there, an old man identical to the old man but not the old man himself, and he gives the doubeing the guidance it needs. Or, at least, the guidance it thinks it needs; the being lays down on the old man’s mattress and upon waking, it splits into two full figures as they take separate paths down the mountain and return to their worlds. The impostor old man dematerializes into a puff of smoke when his visitors leave the forest.
The old man opens his eyes, the sun beaming directly on him, bathing him in a warm glow. He notices the sun is much higher in the sky now than it was before he sat down, must have been a good session. His legs crack as he stands.
Usually after his morning meditation session, the old man would eat lunch. He’d gather a feast of various fruits and vegetables, season them with herbs, and find a nice place to sit and eat. Sometimes he’d sit in his meditation circle, taking in the unique, hand-crafted beauty of his garden; sometimes he would take a short walk to a cliff face and take in the view of the massive valley below; other times he would eat inside the cabin, especially during inclement weather. ‘Not every day in paradise can be sunshine and rainbows,’ he once thought to himself as his body trembled under the two inches of snow that accumulated upon his fleshy temple whilst meditating through a blizzard. ‘That would just be unrealistic.’ He never minds the rain, nor the snow, and the occasional hailstorm doesn’t bother him, either; the weather isn’t for the old man to control, so he accepts it and wades through without thought.
Today is different though, the weather is clement and he wishes to bathe in it. The old man decides not to eat lunch and instead plans for a hike; it’s been a while since he last wandered, so long that he can’t remember his latest jaunt. He goes inside to fetch his pair of handmade wooden sandals and straps them on his tired feet. The shoes are comprised of two straps made of woven grass attached to a shaped piece of wood with soft fabric applied to the top surface. The sole is flat on the bottom with two pegs attached horizontally for support; the old man knows not who made the shoes nor how they got to him, they just showed up on his doorstep one morning. He always makes sure to wear the shoes whenever he has a visitor in hopes that one day, someone will recognize them. However, that day has yet to come… he’s sure it will eventually.
The old man leaves his cabin through the back door again and walks down the garden path. There are six footpaths cut through the garden, all starting (or ending, depending on one’s perspective) at the meditation circle. From above, the rut looks like a big X with a vertical line cutting it in half. The centerfold trails from the cabin to the circle to the woods, the others ending at the fence that guards the garden. The fence was a visitor’s idea, a nice young man who always wore flannel shirts when he hiked; he was even kind enough to help the old man build the barrier. On that fateful day, the two fenced in an area much larger than the old man’s garden filled in at the time, allowing the garden room to grow and reach its potential. Today the tsunami of vegetation pushes against the crossboards of the fence, aching to expand further.
The old man unlatches the gate at the far end of the garden and swings it open, stepping out into the wilderness. He closes the gate behind him but doesn’t lock it – why bother? It’s his way of showing potential visitors that he’s out for the day so they can relax unworried until he gets back. Yet the cabin’s always empty when he gets back.
The scenery changes from a neat and tended clearing to a wild, unbridled, and overgrown forest as the old man flows down the trail. They may sprout from the east coast of this land, but the old man has always considered these woods to be a jungle. During his youth he spelunked through quite a few jungles and can’t help but notice the similarities: the dense, thick undergrowth, the green canopy blotting out the sunlight, the noises of anonymous birds, rodents, and the odd large feline. The foliage and insects may not be quite as large, but a jungle is a jungle as far as the old man is concerned.
The old man follows diligently along this trail he’s walked so many times throughout his long, generation-spanning life. He’s been climbing this trail to the apex ever since he relocated to the nearest town, a sprawl of houses within a valley divetted almost two miles away. He remembers this part of his life fondly, living in the quiet little mountain town with his lover and their pets, a dog and a cat. The couple rescued them both from abandonment when they were hardly more than babies and nursed them back to health. After the animals were strong enough to live on their own, they were left to do just that, to come and go as they pleased. The animals stopped by to visit the old man and his wife quite frequently, they even slept at the foot of the couple’s bed a few days every week. The couple had no idea what the animals did when they ventured out into the world, no idea where they went, but that’s the way they preferred it; animals should live freely as animals. It was his lover’s idea, and the old man had no objections. He rarely did when it came to her ideas.
The trail starts behind his cabin and runs fairly flat, at least for a short while; as it begins to climb, it gets rockier, steeper, and entirely more treacherous. The old man’s cabin sways on a flat pasture about three quarters of the way up the mountain, the last quarter being the steepest section by far. This trail is one of the most strenuous hikes the old man has ever completed, which is saying something; he’s been hiking since before he was even a young man.
Continuing up the trail, the old man’s breath grows heavier with each step he takes. He feels his muscles clenching, his lungs burning in his chest. It’s very similar to the burning in his legs. He enjoys the feeling to a certain extent; for a man of his age, the old man’s body is stupendously strong. He even surprises himself some days, today being one of them – he can remember now, this is the first time in months that the old man’s attempted to reach the mountain’s peak. He simply doubted that he would be able to muster the strength to do it, as the last time he tried, he damn near fainted from exhaustion, slipping and falling into a bush with branches not nearly as soft as its leaves. Well, he woke up in the shrubbery at least, the memories between the fall and the waking are foggy, foggy like the mornings on this mountaintop. Ever since then he’s stuck strictly to the easier trails, but not today. Still unsure of why but not giving into self-doubt, the old man knows today is a special day. A very special day indeed. He presses on.
‘Keep climbing,’ he tells himself, ‘you’re almost there, old boy.’ His legs beginning to shake and not rising quite as high as they used to when he lifts, the old man almost trips over a half-buried tree root slinking out of the ground. He takes this near mishap is a sign that he should take a break and catch his breath. The final stretch of the trail is a climb, easily the most difficult part of the hike – and the old man’s favorite stretch. He’s always been something of a glutton for punishment when it comes to hiking. “If it wasn’t a challenge,” he once told a visitor, “the view from the top wouldn’t be worth it.”
The old man plops down on an overturned log and stretches his legs out, allowing some of the pain to slowly escape as sweat drips down his forehead. Some days, when he focuses really hard, he can manage to see the heat energy coming off his body after a tough workout. It looks like a layer of fluid glass coating his entire being, warping the light around him like a forcefield. He tries today, but alas, he cannot see the energy. Must not be hot enough, oh well… the old man decides it’s time to finish this climb.
The old man adores this mountain, especially the peak. There’s very little vegetation, only a few small bushes, scattered patches of grass, and a single pine tree growing from the summit, nothing to obscure the breathtaking view of the valley between his mountain and the other mountains in the area. From here he can see his cabin, a speck poking out from a clearing in a forest that stretches for days upon weeks outwards. Today’s a particularly sunny day and the old man notices there’s but one cloud floating in the sky. Just one cloud, one whiff of soaked nothingness just waiting to fatten up and pour itself unto the Earth, to blanket the world in drench and speed up the process of living order decomposing and fermenting into unbridled, unusable, and dead chaos…
Delirious from the hike up, the old man raises his head and feels the sun beating on him. He looks to his arm and sees his own heat.
Beneath the sole evergreen and covered in shade is a roughly man-shaped groove in the rock. The bottom of the groove is only a few inches lower than the rest of the summit, making it a perfect dugout for the old man to fill and cool off in. After a few moments’ stand spent taking in the magnificent view, the old man walks over and lays down in this shady spot, the mountain noticeably cooler than the open air it disrupts. The rock under the tree is refreshing to the touch, he can feel it through the back of his sweat-soaked shirt. Staring up into The Void, he can make out fragments, slivers of blue sky peeking through the pine needles. ‘What a beautiful day,’ the old man thinks to himself as he closes his eyes and drifts into a nap.
When he wakes, the fragments of blue’ve been cooked to shards of orange and red. Waking just in time for the sunset, the old man slowly stands and reels as his body aches in rhythm with the beat of his heart. He hobbles to the tallest point of the peak and gazes out across the land, taking in the view once more before the descent.
The old man’s always loved watching the sun set over the forest he calls home. The way the burning rose petal rays light up the sky and dance over the ponds and lakes scattered ‘cross the landscape is supremely picturesque, a brilliance never to fade into obscurity. The pools look almost like portals leading to alternate universes, glorious circles of fire unseemly hidden among the green forest. Beautiful yet out of place, kind of like the old man’s cabin.
As content as he would be with watching the horizon eclipse the sun until it disappears, the old man decides it’s time to go back down the mountain and return to his cabin. It will be dark soon and he’s afraid he’ll have a hard time getting back if he can’t see the trail in front of him. By the time he gets home and walks inside, the sun sinks below the horizon and darkness is ushered in. Before turning in for the night, however, the old man decides to meditate one more time.
He wanders outside. The stars wink from The Void above.
A comet passes overhead as he sits down upon the soft grass, the gas and dust in its tail tearing though the infinite as the old man’s legs fold beneath him. Hands rest upon tired knees. He closes his eyes and drifts off, entering the inner sanctum of mind until the darkness within his eyelids matches the darkness of deep space. Upon opening his eyes and standing, the old man’s knees crack and his legs split with pain, reminding him of his age and the great feat he accomplished today.
The old man removes his dirty, sweaty clothing before he steps inside, moving to fetch a towel from his bedroom. Pouring water on the cloth from the spout emerging from the wall, the old man washes his temple of flesh before realizing how tired he is. So, so very tired. The night darkens.
Digging out his favorite sleeping clothes from underneath his bed proves to be quite the trial. The first of many gifts from his late lover, the old man slips into the black pants and the white shirt, each adorned with a yin-yang patch stitched below the top seam. These are hands-down the most comfortable sleeping clothes, the most comfortable cloths in general possessed by the old man; he can sense the energy of his bride imbued into them still to this day. He packs his pipe and takes a couple tokes before laying down to rest, the Cannabis smoke easing the soreness from his body. An incense is also ignited before he lays down, the sweet amber scent pleasantly bringing him into slumber.
After all the preparations are complete, the old man finally lays his body down and lets his head hit the pillow. He feels as though everything is drifting away, fading into the darkness inside of his eyelids. He’s still awake, still very aware, but he can’t feel anything; that is, aside from a strange warmth emerging from the center of his heart. He’s never felt this before, such sourceless warmth embracing him, cascading over him, replacing his bodily awareness with pure bliss. Even more surprising is the floating sensation he feels as he quickly slips into what he assumes is a state of lucid dreaming; shortly after, the old man realizes a light. It’s small at first, bright but very far away, until it begins to grow. He realizes that his dream theory is likely null as he floats closer and closer to the light, face-to-face with it now, the glow, so inviting, he could almost… he stops, turning back to witness his own body laying still, lifeless in his bed. He gazes down upon that old, tired vessel a’rest peacefully on the soft mattress and smiles, his body smiling in unison with him. Not wishing to look back for long, the old man resumes his ascent and allows himself to merge with the light, the blinding sensation of ubiquitous warmth overtaking everything the old man’s ever known. ‘The light, it’s so… beautiful…’
The next morning, the old man does not wake up.
Later on, a knock strikes the old man’s door. Nobody answers, nobody can, and so the visitors let themselves in. These visitors had come up the mountain many times in the past to see the old man, finally returning today after a years-long hiatus. A man with a love of woodworking and building with his hands is accompanied by his lover, a free-spirited woman with a fantastically unbridled energy about her, and their child, a young babe no more than four years of age. The family walks out back into the garden and shows the boy the berry bushes, telling him to pick a snack. The woman takes out a joint from behind her ear and the couple burns it together, smiling as they watch their child run about. Terrence Monta, the light of their life; they love him more than they can even comprehend.
The joint turns to a roach as their energetic child grows tired, prompting the family to go back inside. They find it quite odd that the old man isn’t up and about yet – it’s almost noon, after all. They knock on his bedroom door a few times, getting silence in return. The lovers take a long, solemn look at each other before walking inside and facing what they’d feared for so long. Precognition does not prevent them from breaking down and crying in mourning over the loss of their friend. Terrence walks in and sees the old man lying on his bed, chest still and not breathing. He hugs his parents and the three of them sit on the floor, shedding tears of sorrow until the sadness fades. The lovers carry the old man’s body out to the garden and lay him down on the path leading to the woods. Procuring a shovel from the living room, the man digs a deep hole into the grass circle in the middle of the garden. He begins crying again as he digs, each shovelful of dirt seeming heavier than the last. When the hole is deep enough, they lower the old man’s body, still clad in his silk sleeping clothes, down into the pit, covering him with flowers, fruits, vegetables, and of course, buds and seeds of the Cannabis plant, before filling in the rest of the hole with dirt. The man begins to say a prayer but stops when fountains spill over his eyelids. The child hugs him but the crying continues, his wife joining in on the tearshed. On the inside they know the old man is in a better place now. Looking up into the sky, they can almost feel him smiling down on them. Almost.
Shortly after the funeral, the family leaves the cabin and returns home. They had made plans to come back and tend to the cabin and the garden, but within weeks of burying the old man, the man’s lover falls ill. She battles with disease after disease for five years before finally succumbing, using her last breath to proclaim her undying love for her husband and their child. The man holds a large funeral, hundreds attend. A truly beautiful ceremony; she’d have loved it.
A few months after the passing, man and son take a hike up to the old cabin on the mountain. They find it in perfect condition, untouched by the weather and the wrath of time. The old man had many visitors – apparently many of them came back to take care of the hallowed hall. Nothing has changed on the inside, it appears the same as the last time he visited with his family. Suddenly, he hears his son yelling from out back. The man steps out the back door and walks the path to find a gorgeous patch of flowers bursting from the circle of grass, petals of every color sprouting from stalks healthy and green. The man smiles, a tear falling down his cheek as he takes in the beauty of the old man’s flower garden.
Many years later, when his son is grown and out living a life of his own, the man returns to the cabin once more. He decides to move in and take care of the cabin, to carry on the legacy left behind by the old man. He feels that it’s the right thing to do, it’s what his wife would have wanted. What the old man would have wanted. He fixes up the weather damage and keeps the garden growing, waters the plants every day. Eventually he even starts meditating in the circle in the middle of the garden, the flower patch long wilted. Sometimes the man has visitors, they’re always very kind to him. Sometimes his son makes the journey and spend weekends with him in the cabin. The man enjoys these weekends very much.
When he moved into the cabin, he was planning on moving back out into the “real world.” As months turned to years, he knew he wouldn’t do it. He couldn’t; the man loves living on this mountain, loves seeing the visitors and tending to the garden. He loves the tranquility, almost as much as he loved the old man. Some days, he can even feel the old man smiling down on him from wherever it is that old men go when they leave their cabin on the mountain.