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Those Like Me

Continued from: Of Reality and Denial

His experience with the Mirror had left him shaken, but he was a resilient man, and continued walking the path without question or doubt, as he had been taught to do since childhood. It was a path that was familiar, comforting and while he didn’t know why he followed it or where it would lead, such questions never arose in his head. The elders must have their reasons and those reasons were above the doubts in those such as him.

In the distance ahead a small city began to come into sight. He could see pastel coloured, small buildings and movement around them, probably people and animals. Curiously, there didn’t seem to be any walls.

To his left up ahead was a small, square area, paved with blocks of stone, strands of grass and weed poking out between the spaces and crevices. Stout lengths of wood at the corners supported a thatched roof that gave shade to weary travellers, rough sacking cloth hanging along the four sides. Two thin dogs sat close by, watching him approach. He stepped in, bending slightly as he was a tall man, and saw two men and a woman, their heads uncovered, seated in one corner. A child lay asleep besides them, snugly wrapped in a worn, woollen blanket, his cheeks covered in dust and his hair bleached by the sun.

He chose the corner farthest from them, sat down cross legged facing his corner as he had been taught, and reached into his sack for food and drink. His drinking gourd felt empty but he held it up-turned above his head nonetheless, delighting in the few remaining drops of cool, clear water. He should have filled it in the forest. Pulling out the bundle of remaining food, he opened it and looked at the contents in dismay. The supple bread he had started out with were hard as rocks and the pieces of dried meat had acquired a greenish tinge. There would be no lunch for him today. He leaned forward, lifted up the cloth wall and threw out the bread and meat, for the dogs looked like they could do with some food.

As he stuffed the empty bundle and drinking gourd back into his sack, the older of the two men in the opposite corner spoke up, offering to share their food and drink with him, a platter of bread, meat and fruit in his outstretched hand. “We have plenty”, the man continued, having obviously seen his predicament.

He grunted a rough sound of refusal, not looking towards them as he had been taught, arose and walked out. The final leg of his journey had begun, and he headed towards the city in the distance. There would be food there.

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