He cursed himself at the poor decision to dress so sparsely. He cursed that he had taken the lighter path. He thought it would be faster and easier. He should have known better. And that’s what stung so much harder than the needles of ices to his face. But there in lied thesecret. It would never be better than this.
He arrived at the tree stump. The axe was untouched, like Arthur’s birthright. But this would award him no power. It was a chore. He began to chop the frozen wet wood. This world made no sense. He had to perform this task today at this time. No reason was given. Only the instruction. Halfway though he gave the biggest cough of his life. The snow painted red. He pulled off his glove to wipe his mouth. As a kid, Tony used to appreciate the metal taste. But in this volume he’d kill for a Lifesaver Wint-O-green. He felt the need to relieve himself and wondered if the urine would mix with the blood to yield an orange mixture. It didn’t. It only bubbled and remained red.
After chopping what he prayed (to no one) was the last log Tony he stared down. In a moment he would look to his left. There would either be fresh logs to chop or there wouldn’t be. Log of fresh wood piled themselves up out of nowhere. He would chop them. Then he would see a fresh pile. He would chop those. Some days there was just one pile. Some piles would refresh themselves for days. But now looking at the snow, imagining dancing snow flakes or red designs that might shape if he coughed again, he embraced the musings his mind, free to storm during this time out. These intermittent breaks seemed like all his life had become. Or maybe this was the only time he had to reflect. Just ten more seconds and he would look. He hummed a song from his childhood. It must have a theme song. “Gummy Bears, dancing here and there and every where..” He couldn’t remember the next line. He sighed and look over.
A fresh pile awaited him. He lounged in denial. How perfectly his imagination detailed the fresh wood. It seemed bigger than before. He went back to work for 2 more piles.
He collected the chopped wood into his back pack and sliced the axe in to the stump for the next lost soul. His backpack had infinite capacity. The weight of the logs did not diminish like their volume. This world made no sense. He would to take the bus home.
Upon arriving he looked to the left and to the right. Yellow lights to the left were oncoming blessings. Red lights to the right were insult to injury. He saw neither. An old woman sat on the bench. She understood too. The bus would come soon enough. Tony and the old woman would get on the bus. They would journey silently. But not known to Tony or the old woman would be another passenger on the bus. This passenger would be young and frustrated. Erratic. He would not understand. And this would create a problem. Worse than the logs, worse than the snow, worse than the blood, the problem of the young man who did not understand would be the worst part of Tony’s day. And at the end of it all Tony might end up heartbroken, except for the one fact…he understood. Could he make this young passenger understand? Or would he have to die?
To be continued…