Anatomy of a Storyteller: Forever

            “Just that I was surprised you were the one down in that cell.”

            “Yes, you said that.  Why should you be surprised it was me on the other end of your rope?”

            “Well, it’s like this,”  Sir Duncan paused to cut two big chunks of roast, mushrooms and greens from the thinner end and left the thicker end on the fire to cook a little longer.  He handed one chunk to Glen who was utterly grateful and ate greedily, though it burned his fingers and his mouth.  “I have run into the same woman four times,” Sir Duncan admitted.  “That is nigh unto impossible given the infinite vastness of this place.  These Second Heavens, this middle space or dividing line between God’s throne and the earth is without end in terms of time and space and its inhabitants are mostly strange, in-between creatures.  I have my own name for this place”

            “Oh?”

            Sir Duncan chewed and stared at Glen once more.  Something was ticking in the man’s head, and at last he came out with it.  “I call this place, Forever.”

            Glen nodded.  It was a fair name.  “Still, I would bet most humans don’t stick around long.  I would guess most end up in one of these houses and get sent off somewhere out of reach pretty quickly.”

            “There is that,” Sir Duncan admitted.  “But in a thousand years I have not run into more than a half-dozen people twice and here in a short time I have met you three times.”

            Glen understood that was unusual, but his mind was elsewhere.  “So if you meet that woman again, maybe you two should travel together.”  He could see from Sir Duncan’s face that the man had thought about it, often.  “What?”

            Sir Duncan shook his head.  “She is Japanese from the days of the Shogun.  We are so very different, the first time I met her I was not even sure she was human.”

            “Well, you certainly have my encouragement.  I just spent a long time in isolation, and believe me, there is no reason anyone should be alone.”

            Sir Duncan nodded but said no more about it.  He also had another question.  “So, are you really a servant of the Lord in disguise?”

            Glen laughed,  Sir Duncan laughed.  When they stopped laughing, Glen spoke in answer.  “I was just going to ask you that.”

            “Odd as I am, I fit in around here.  There is still something very odd about you.”

            “Because I am not dead yet,” Glen suggested.  “But I was going to say I am ordained, or get ordained some day, or whatever.  If you two ever, you know, want to be together and I happen to be around.”

            Sir Duncan turned very red and set another log on the fire.  He said nothing more and opted to sleep.  The sun was about set by then so it was not an entirely strange thing to do.  Glen was also exhausted.  He lay down on the grass beneath the trees, beside the fire and wondered.

            He thought perhaps the two souls of Sir Duncan and the Japanese woman were destined to be together but in their lifetimes they were born impossibly far apart.  Now that they had come to the middle place, to Forever and neither appeared ready to finish the journey, they might meet and be joined together as they were always meant to be.

            A month ago, Glen would have said that any two people meant for each other would certainly find themselves on earth.  Now he was not so sure.  Mistakes might be made, or rather, not mistakes but things that might appear that way.  Glen simply did not have all of the information to understand.  It was like God might be speaking to him day and night, but it meant nothing if God neglected to give him the ears to hear.

            Glen slept on the open grass, on the rocky ground, without blanket or pillow and only the stars above him to watch over him.  It was the best sleep he had in over a month.

            When the morning came, Glen woke afraid that it was all a dream and he was really back in his holding cell.  He opened his eyes slowly and saw the green and sighed.  Then he noticed Sir Duncan was packing his blanket and ready to leave.

            “I thought you might sleep for a while,” he said.  “I tried not to disturb you.”

            “No, that’s fine.”

            “There is a bit of roast still which you might enjoy to break your fast.”

            “Thank you, but I was thinking.  That is twice now you pulled me out of a pit of one kind or another.”

            “Knightly duty,” Sir Duncan shrugged it off.

            “Perhaps, but I have duties, too.  I said I was ordained one day.  I want you to have this.”  He picked up his Bible and gave it to the man.

            Sir Duncan looked at it long before he shook his head.  “I don’t read well.”

            “Good for practice,” Glen said.  “Besides, I have a feeling I won’t be needing it where I am going.  Please.  I would give you the shirt off my back but I already did that once.”

            Sir Duncan Laughed and accepted the gift.  “So now, must I call you Father Glen?”

            “You better not,” Glen responded.  “If you do I may have to hit you even if I break my knuckles on your armor.”

            Sir Duncan laughed again and mounted.  “Don’t misunderstand me.  When I say you sometimes sound like a woman I mean you are the most well rounded person I have ever met.  You seem to be able to see both sides at the same time and I count that as a great virtue.  Most men haven’t got a clue, and to be fair, most women don’t either.”

            “What about you?” Glen asked.

            “I am learning, Madam.  I am learning.”  Sir Duncan rode off, away from the house.

            Glen sat and ate first.  Then he made sure the fire was out.  Then he began to feel uncomfortable being so near the house.  He hustled his feet and was not surprised that he quickly stepped out of the woods in Memorial Field, a public park in the village not terribly far from his home.    

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