XIII

THE LESSON

 

The withered man took my coins, and smiled with delight,

asking about my hopes and my dreams.

I closed my eyes and subdued the fright,

recalling with horror the ghosts and the screams.

 

‘To live forever is a popular choice.

All you must do is action your voice.

I will do the rest, by the gods blessing,

and you can live out your days without ever confessing.’

 

She was there, I was there, it was all real.

And her warmth close to me was all I could feel.

I knew, dream or no, the message They sent,

and there and then how much it all meant.

 

With tears in my eyes, I held her tight,

looking into her eyes where the world was alight:

‘Not if it meant losing my beloved Aniele.

For her I would walk through the fires of Hell.’

 

‘A man of some wisdom you happen to be,

though teaching you such did not fall upon me.

Perhaps you might share the secrets you keep,

before all of us embrace a welcoming sleep.’

 

But I, laughing respectfully, shaking my head,

would tell him nought of the life I had led.

For knowing that few men take another for word,

there was nought I could tell him that he had not heard

and dismissed. Like I, come before, he was full of doubt.

He shrouded it well when walking about.

 

I smiled, and friends ‘round did wait for my voice.

And, realising I had little choice

but to offer him something (and as much for said friends),

humbly I countered with profound confidence:

 

‘What matters in life is that we ask our questions,

at times when there’s time to set ‘side our concessions.

But never let questions o’erwhelm answers ‘round,

‘specially when happiness is there to be found.

I understand value, but only through loss.

It is the curse of mankind that we o’erlook the cost

of seeking beyond the hills of our condition,

without appreciation for our present position.’

 

A bright light was glowing beyond the scene,

and I lifted my eyes from her face.

The harsh glare it grew in intensity

until it completely enveloped the place.

 

‘No!’ I screamed. But it was too late.

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