Life is a mystery that is near but always out of reach. In this short story the author tells the tale of girl who experiences the mystery of life.
What is life but a story, one part badly told and the other justly, one forgotten and the other…lost. Life is a story, and the road is never the same, never straight. With love and hope and happiness, it is lively but with despair and hatred, it is dead. What is life? Ask one who lives and his answer would lay before you a sea of silence. Ask him who is dead, but he is lost.
Life is an adventure. Life is an adventure. Life is an adventure.
If said enough times, it might become one, but life is a story, a tale and there is scarcely any adventure in it, any thrill, any excitement; which makes a tale an adventure.
There is the life of a sailor, full of harsh and utmost miseries, and truly brimming with astonishing tales; and then there is the soldier, the wanderer of lost ways, the moth who seeks the flame, and the wind that has no direction only a destiny; and in each of these lives, there are many stories, many songs, and many tales, which if told would not suffice to quench the thirst or the cravings of the listener; but in all these tales, there is seldom found even a whiff of adventure, a whiff that leads to the life of the Living.
Who are the Living? Ask one who lives, what is it to live? Is existence the same as living? Ask one who breathes. Our human existence, its prosperity, its future, and opportunity, is in survival, and survival is not life, survival is not adventure, survival is not a story. Survival is just desperate fear; but the Living are those who prosper, who surmount that mount where sits fortune, who outreach and outscale what it means to Live.
The Living live an adventure, and yet no story or tale about them is heard, neither in great halls nor in small rooms, neither in heaven nor in hell. Only whispers echo as if even their mention can be the great shadow’s cause.
Aria was sitting outside the small cottage, her vacant eyes a victim to the beauty of the setting sun. Her thoughts ran wild, almost incessantly wondering, searching, and worrying for that solid rock upon which stood in glory…Truth. “There are no ends to wondering, are there?” she whispered in a quiet voice which seemed to echo on the last blinding rays of the sun. “There is no end to wondering, but only steps, levels, as we go upwards on its stairway towards the fiction of truth. There is no end or a beginning, is there?” and her question hung in the air amidst every tempest which connects two thoughts, and it was a question well-made. Life ebbed away from the ever-shining sun and it died like all things mortal.
It was not until many a year when sitting outside the same cottage gazing at the same setting sun, now old and worn, that she wondered again about the end and the beginning. She was like that worn clothing which we often see hanging from an even older branch, tattered by the storm. Life had seemed so vast, she thought, with husbands, friends, drinks and wine. Life had meant something with all the love and care; but if meaning leans on the shoulder of love then what use is it? I have no one beside me; all those who loved me are gone. What use is life then? Where is the meaning?
Everything and everyone had drowned around her as she witnessed the crumbling mansions and felt the soft grass under her feet; as she enjoyed the luxurious life of queens but lived like a beggar, but in the end, she had returned to the same small cottage, which stood on the edge of a red cliff, all alone and without a cause. Life is a circle, she thought as her inward gaze looked upon the past years. Where the journey starts, there it ends. From soil to soil. From dust to dust. From life to life. From breath to breath.
“Is life the same for you?” she asked the cat, who had wandered close to her, now eating on that day’s leftovers. It looked at her, at first wary, then in a meek voice asked for more. Aria threw the last piece of bread with no regrets for she was old and worn, and had little apetite. For this little cat, the world consists of food and survival. There is no love in its glance, no passion, no anger; just desire. She had seen the same look in many human eyes; even in her own when she glanced at herself in the mirror.
The cat, disinterested in Aria, looked for someplace else in hopes to find some element of interest. It bounded off after the poor squirrel who had the misfortune of being sighted by the sharp eyes of the little cat. Aria watched as the little cat played with her prey, so treacherous its game, never letting the poor squirrel go.
As she watched the playing cat, she remembered her conversation with Martemius who had been so regent and proud.
“Why do you hate him so?” she asked in a voice young and clear as the morning wind. Martemius was in his youth, ambitious and passionate about everything.
“Of whom do you speak, my dear Aria?” he looked in her eyes disregarding her question even though he knew of whom she spoke.
“The young prince, of course.”
“Ah, him!” he looked away. “I don’t hate him. He’s more prey than an enemy – a means to an end, so to say.”
She had believed him for his treachery and yet had been foolish enough to love him more.
Are all hearts so vain, so deceiving as to make a prey of their own kin? Are all eyes so blind that they fail to see the serpentine lie? No one could answer her questions, no one who could put a stop to her useless wondering. No one.
It was getting dark and the silver light of the moon was insufficient to light the path that led to the gates of truth; and so Aria stood up with a groan, picked the cane from where it had fallen beside the chair, and shambled towards the small cottage; her only home.
Her steps left a trail of dust in their wake, and the dust merged with the cool breeze, twirling and swirling it rose to great heights; but looking down it saw the old lady fall as she made the last effort, took the last breath, to somehow reach the gates of Truth. And there was no one, no one there to help her, and yet there was everyone, the stars, the moon, the earth, the grass, the breeze, the dust, the cat, and her soul. As everyone watched her slip away, it seemed the old crone had finally reached the gates of Truth…and she was all alone.