It was nearly nightfall when A. J. arrived at the land's end, and the shores of a great body of water. There were two figures sitting on wooden stools near the water's edge. They were clad in dark robes, and their faces were shrouded. By the contours of their unshod feet, A. J. assumed they were female. Each figure held a bell.
There were clusters of luggage in the sand behind the two denizens, arranged like stowage waiting to be put on a ship, or drift to be taken by the tide. There were no other people about. The only sound was that of the waves lapping at the shore. The sound lulled A. J.
The reverie was interrupted by the sound of a bell. The figure on the left pulled back the cloak, revealing a female face. She looked at A. J. knowingly.
“The other side is far away,” she whispered in the silence following the bell, “and the other side is near. The lessons are always the same. Have you come seeking passage?"
A.J. hesitated. “Passage to where?” he replied.
“Passage to where?” she intoned. “Passage home, of course - to the home of your past, and the home of your future; to the home of your heart, body, and soul; to the home of careful planning, and the home of happenstance; to a home rebuilt from the tinder of dreams and turned into dreams again; to "Home Sweet Home" and "Home on the Range," and every lie-you-ever-wanted-to-come-true; or perhaps - even to that other ocean home from which you first stepped - the only other real - that place from before time, or speech, or precedent.” She smiled. “We all want a home, don't we? Shall I have my sister summon transport?"
A. J. looked into the distance, at the frail glimmer of light in so much darkness. A. J. was confused. What he saw did not mesh with his own recollections. When A. J. thought of home he always imagined the morning sun, and clear skies.
"Are there any other destinations? Passage to anywhere else?" A. J. queried. "And what is the cost? What accommodations are offered?"
"It is always the same, " she sternly retorted, as if she were telling him something he should already know. "There is only one destination. It will cost you everything you have. Accommodations along the way are of your own doing."
“And if I decline passage?” A. J. inquired.
She was quiet for a moment. “Then you will learn the lessons to be learned while declining passage,” she replied. “As I told you, the lessons are always the same; we are all going to the same place. My sister and I will still be here when you return. Just see if you find it otherwise."
A. J. shuddered, and considered the apparent oracle presented to him, and it's implications. He felt the sea wind on his face, looked up and down the beach, and surveyed the tide line extending from horizon to horizon. Then he contemplated the vast water before him. He turned around, and beheld the bluffs that rose up from the coastline at his feet - the land receding like his memories from the present edge of his being. He smiled.
A. J. thanked the woman, and set off with his rucksack towards the bluffs. Once there, he would find a place to camp, a good place from which to awaken and catch the morning light.
- The Fool
- photo by Rodney Smith