The Living Tree

“Dreams are sometimes enough Robert.”

 Robert knows he is dreaming. He does not need a figment of his imagination to tell him so. 

“Are you ready to see what you have worked your whole life for?”

The dreamer does not answer, because he knows he is sleeping and no answer could possibly make that much of a difference to wherever this is taking him. 

It seems though, with a sky on fire from a setting sun, he is being led up a rocky path.

Robert is not young. He leans on a long ash rod. His hip aches. He tries to remember when last he had a dream that hurt. Nothing comes to mind though. Dreams don’t hurt.

“Your future Robert is a gift the universe has promised you since birth.”

The voice that speaks seems to be just ahead of him, but Robert can’t locate the speaker. His eyes have gotten bad. Milky blue cataracts keep much of what he once enjoyed behind a filmy view. He still has his imagination though and pictures the voice belonging to a slender woman with long auburn hair. 

Her words are lyrical. 

“Do you remember your birth Robert?”

Robert scoffs, of course, he doesn’t remember his birth. He met a man who claimed to remember his birth once though. He was adamant. He cried a lot, this man, He had the scars of war on his body. He had been burned. Tortured for being on the other side. His shoulders did not work. His knees did not bend. He was a wretched wreck of a human being. 

“I remember your birth, Robert. I have been there every step of your journey. When you learned to swing your broadsword in great sweeping arcs. I was there when you took your first maid, your first life, had your first through seventh children. I have forever been your shadow.” 

Smells hit Robert. Every smell of his life, the good mixed with the bad. The sea and death and great meals, flowers and women, his children, burning wax, good black ink, and freshly pressed paper. 

The wind blows and through the rustle of thick leaves, he hears a soft moaning wail. It’s eerie and penetrating and yet beautiful. It reminds him of a funeral keening and a lullaby mixed together. 

“Come old man the path may be steep but you are near the end just follow my voice and claim your reward.”

Robert does not speed his feet. He takes his time soaking in every experience. It’s not every day one dies and he wants each and every moment of his eternity- if that’s what this is. 

If it’s not, if this is not the last moment of his great life, he will milk it, nonetheless for everything its got.

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