I woke up, on the day that I died, with a grin on my face.
There I lay in my bed and my closed eyes looking up at the ceiling. My eyes had an unconscious thousand mile stare. That’s when they burst to life.
My eyelids flash open and a smile crawls across my face. Today was the day I was going to die. I sprang from my bed, my feet splashed across the ground with thuds like hailstones on a tin roof. I raced out the door, my feet trailing a tangled bedsheet. I hopped down the hallway, patted the dog on the head, tumbled down the stairs, two at a time, landing with a crash at the bottom. Planted. Landed. 10.0 score from the judges. Took those last 5 stairs in a bound.
I slam into the bar peninsula where breakfast sits. Golden scrambled eggs steam with light oily cheese. I enjoy every bite. I hug my Mom, tell her how much I love her. I spend a few minutes in conversation with my dad. I ask him one important thing that I’ve always wanted to know. He tells me how he makes his scrambled eggs. I give him a hug. I kiss my mom. I explode out the door.
Do you wonder how I die? It comes at the end. Hold on a second.
I run through the streets. I dart across the street, a car rushed behind me. I can feel the wind of it on the back of my neck. I think about kites and beaches I once knew. I mull old thoughts over as my legs pump. I can feel it like lightening in my veins. My head pumps and I can feel my lungs stretched like spiderwebs in a storm. Fresh, new, swift. The sweat runs down my hot face, and it smells like salt.
I arrive at the park, and sit down with my girlfriend. Tragic young love right? A dying young lover sits under a tree. I stay there for the rest of the day until the suns goes down.
I walk here home in the blue haze and then make my way back to my own home. I see an old friend on his porch. We talk late into the night. The moths flick around the cold blue light. When four in the morning comes around, we part ways and I finally find myself rolling into bed. That’s the end, and I go to sleep.
Prompt: “I woke up, on the day that I died, with a grin on my face.”
The grass was yellow and long. It was summer. This must be what people meant by a “Golden Summer” back before sprinklers and indoor heating turned the world into one climate controlled glass palace. Back when summers were hot and dry, and winters were cold. And when the weather really might kill you.
The grass was yellow and long. It was an abandoned field. The Boy was wandering away, deep in to the sea of marigold. When you are at sea, the world suddenly balls up inside your head. North, south, left, right, up and down, swallowed by infinite blue. Imagine that, but in shades of the sun, lightyears away. The Boy kept stumbled over cities of living things, hidden things, down in root and ground. He was like a drop in a bucket.
He heard a sound of clacking. A rhythmic rumble, like wood and iron rolling together. It was distant, and faint, but it broke the silence of the cicadas like a warm roar from the ground. He felt the lightening in his body, as he walked out of the field and found himself on the otherside, like the first creature to walk on land, so so long ago.
In front of him, was a Hobo. And old man, with a patchwork jacket, a vast grey beard like Santa Claus playing chimney sweep, and even a polka dot knapsack on a stick.
“Hello Son.” He called up. He was propped up on a log. His eyes were infinite big and soft, like the eyes of a dog.
“Hello Sir.” The Boy straightened up his back. He wasn’t scared
“What are you doing here Boy?” The old Man blinked his eyes and took a deep breath. The deep heat of summer soaked in through his hairy nostrils, like an ocean into the deep caverns of dark mountains.
“I went wandering. I was bored. Do you know any stories Sir?” The Boy sat down on the grass. The grass was shorter here. He crossed his legs Indian style, and grabbed a fistful of grass in his hand. He absentmindly yanked it up, then let it fall from his hand like floating leaves.
“Yes. Yes I do. I know many Stories, and I am myself a Story.” The old Man winked and smiled with this.
“What do you mean?” The boy cocked his head.
“I am the God of the Hobos. But really every person is a Story. I am the last of my kind perhaps though.” The old Man’s voice was somewhat softer, tinged with sadness. He looked down at his hands as he said this, tracing the whorls of his gnarly hands.
“Mine isn’t very interesting. I just live in the City.” Said the Boy. He brushed off his pants of all the acculmated grass, and he looked up sharply, attentive and ready.
“So did I. And I also lived in the Country, and in the Barn and Bar. It’s not the setting that makes the Story. It’s the characters.” Said the old Man. He poked a finger at the Boy and let out a small laugh, under his breath, like a brook leaping over rocks.
“Would you tell me your Story?” The Boy leaned back on his hands, and stuck out his legs, forming a big V. It was shaded it, dark, blue, deep purple, and all the yellow turned grey and asphalt. The sunlight drifted through the trees on his brown skin and turned it a warm orange glow.
“It is too long for us, and I am afraid I am dying. But I can tell you some of it.” Offered the old Man. And so he began his story.
“I was born a million years ago. When trains roamed the earth. Before airplanes, and speedways, and dinosaurs. When you could travel, by blinking your eyes and holding on tight.” He spread his hands as wide as the horizon. They reached from east to west, from San Francisco, past Chicago, to New York. The sun was behind him. It was beginning to set, and cast long shadows. The light trickled in, in between the cracks between his hands.
“I was the saint of safe journey. I was the matyr that made the first harmonica.” The old Man brought his arms back to his side. The Boy kept watching, he held his breath tight.
“Life was, and is hard. Some men died. They threw themselves onto the tracks looking for death. But I threw men on to tracks so they could find life. Life grows in people. But it grows as they live. It isn’t hidden away like a rock in a mountain. It grows like a tree. It isn’t just an end, but a beginning, like a song that you listen to. It stretches in their limbs, and it keeps their legs pumping and pounding.” The old Man snapped his fingers and smiled a deep smile at the boy.
“As the world has grown smaller, people have grown smaller. Their hearts live in silent corners. Their hearts are like an empty passenger seat. My time has been passing, and so I have grown greyer. This is the land where I was born, and it is where I will die.” He said this, and leaned back onto his satchel. He placed his hands on his stomach, and he breathed deep old air.
“But you are a God! Gods don’t die.” Said the Boy. The story couldn’t be over. It would be a pretty lame story if it was.
“They don’t and they do. Gods die, but then they come back to life again.” The old Man didn’t open his eyes. He took a deep breath, and scrunched comfortably into place.
“Will you ever be back?” The Boy stood up with his arms stiff at his side, his hands balled into fist. He heard the old Man’s voice in reply, and he relaxed, all fear draining from him.
“I don’t know. There’s always an open road. I won’t mind.”
Prompt by Mark Twain: Write a story about the God of the Hobos speaking to a boy in a field as he dies.