The tenth day of September The year remains unknown I woke to a most curious sound. A metallic noise of some sort echoed through the window, which stood slightly ajar. Akil was nowhere to be seen as I surveyed the single-room cabin. The fire had long burnt out and the fresh cut flowers lay dry and shriveled on the shelf where the old man had placed them. On the trunk, neatly folded, was a set of clothes. Beside them on the floor sat a pair of worn leather boots. Assuming they were for me, I dressed â€“intent on investigating the sound outside. Feeling neither hunger nor need for relief, I turned the knob centered in the round, green, wood-planked door and stepped outside. Expecting to see the worn narrow path directly in front of me, I was surprised to see a meadow full of wildflowers and wreathed in rhododendron, yet no sign of the path at all. All nature of insects flew from flower to flower in the early morning sun . Despite the beauty of the scene, the metallic grinding noise compelled me onward. I moved around the cabin, brushing against the blue flowers of the bushes along the siding. The noise grew louder as I turned the first corner yet nothing came into view save the stone exterior of the chimney and a few split logs lying at its base. Around the rear of the cabin a small pond covered in green lily pads occupied the center of a small clearing. On a bench, turning a grinding wheel with his left hand and holding a dagger against the stone with his right, sat Akil Karanis. He was humming a song while looking into the forest of small paper-barked trees that surrounded the clearing as if he could see something of intense interest. Looking in the same direction, I saw only the white and brown of the curling bark. I moved closer, careful not to step on the low growing flowers that bordered the brick path. When I was within armâ€™s length, Akil turned with a start. His welcoming smile was infectious and soon we were grinning at each other like fools. I wasnâ€™t expecting you so soon, he finally said. How does one expect another who is already in their presence? I queried. A fair question, my friend. He stopped turning the wheel, lifted
the blade and ran his finger along the edge. What happened to me yesterday? Why did you render me unconscious? Akil’s brow furrowed at the word unconscious. It was a simple sleeping incantation, nothing more, he said. You see, a normal body such as yours is not suited to make the journey in as short a time as is required. Likewise, he said, holding up a finger, preventing me from interrupting, an untrained mind must be given rations of information simply because a deluge of truth would render one inane for days. So, for the moment, you require only the knowledge I am willing to impart and must otherwise rest both mind and body. You will need both strength and fortitude of mind to complete the second half of your trek. Do you understand? He asked. Truly I did not and I suppose my expression revealed my lack of comprehension. I have swept you away from the only world you know, he said. That alone is often too much for a man to bare yet you have borne it and borne it well. Now, we must discuss what is to come. And what does come next? I asked. You must remain here, in this place, for forty days. On the forty-first day, I shall return and we will move on. What must I do in all that time? I asked having not stayed in one place for that duration in as long as I can remember. Do you see where the clearing meets the trees? I nodded. You must not cross into the forest. It is strictly forbidden. By whom? I asked. Akil slowly stood. By this place, he said, extending his arms and turning. The sun glistened off his hairless crown. I don’t understand, I replied. Nor do I expect you to, he said. I shall return every fifth day with supplies, food and information. Between my visits it is up to you to decide what to do with the time that is left to you. Porridge simmers over the fire as we speak. There is a well on the far side of the cabin among the high grasses. The trunk, you no doubt noticed, contains tools I believe you will find most useful and informative. Akil stretched, his joints popped as his muscles contracted. I must take my leave, I’m afraid. You must eat, rest and heal. Take heed of my warning. Stay out of the forest. He began walking in that very direction. I kept pace at his side. Where will you go? I asked. You don’t think you’re the only one I must tend to, do you? He asked, stopping at the edge of the
clearing. I hadn’t given it much thought, I replied. I give you leave to think on whatever it is you believe you must, Akil said, stepping into the forest –immediately disappearing beneath the darkness of the canopy. I was alone. Tempted to plunge into the forest after him, yet leery of his warning, I turned and headed across the clearing toward the cabin. As I passed the sharpening wheel, I noticed Akil had set the blade on the wooden stool. I picked it up. It felt light in my hand –too light. I touched the blade, deciding a dirk this light couldn’t possibly be sharp yet the moment my finger contacted the edge, I pulled my hand away in pain. Blood ran down my finger as I inspected the wound. My print was cleaved apart revealing the bone beneath. I quickly wrapped my finger in the bottom of my tunic to stay the bleeding and continued my walk around the cabin and inside the circular green door. The instant I crossed the threshold, the throbbing ceased. I unwrapped my finger and to my amazement, upon closer inspection, saw the wound had closed and the bleeding come to a halt. I carefully placed the dirk on the shelf beside the door, not noticing the dried flowers upon which it rested and moved toward the fireplace where my meal stewed inside the black steel pot. Of this day, there is nothing more to report.