Friday, September 9, 2011

A Package Delivered -- a short story with no real purpose.


Carrying a single bag, the young man is traveling alone at his whim with no particular destination in mind. The bag isn't his; he's just the delivery-boy, sent on an ageless journey through time to find the one who is to open it. The destination is unimportant, only the recipient matters. As he walks, he will find him, it is only time that counts the journey; and he has an eternity to locate the one.

What's in the bag is unknown to him--only the sender knows;--and as the messenger walks through the rough-hewn cobblestone pathways that lead from and to all destinations, the bag grows weighty in his hands. Heavier with each passing step, each passing year, and each passing destination that was searched and found empty. None of them were where the one could be found.

He was told, "Do not open the bag, it is not for you."  To this he would remain true even though some force from within his slender frame wished to peer into the bag, to see what wonders might be within. His master's works were always awe-inspiring, and perhaps he'd get to see the contents.

Every step he takes clacks upon the stones at his feet. The sound echoes off the walls of nearby buildings, rebounding staccato and returning diminished. Far into the unseen, foggy distance the footsteps fall away. Still, he does not know his destination; only that he was given the identity of the recipient--a Frenchman--and the year to which he was to travel, 1789.

Walking through time is not difficult, it is traveling to the correct point in time that takes effort; and each decade through which he had to trek saw misery, pain, fortune, and life--but none of them were where his package was intended to arrive, and none of them were homes to the one who would open and reveal what might lay within. Surely, they were all worthy places in their own, but none of them were the one to whom the bag was intended. He must carry on, though the weight became perilous.

Heavy is the load he carries; and heavier still is the air around him. It is near nightfall, and now is the time when the air is more oppressive than ever. Windows are opened to let in any breeze that may be, but the tenants of this block are without even that hope; and so they are mired in their own humid thoughts, from which the fog seemed to emanate.

From across the stone courtyard a single man approaches. There is no haste in his steps; rather, they are carefully kept, and easily repeated. The heels of his knee-high boots similarly careen off the stones, and the sound is like a rifle shot, repeated with every forward move.

Toward one another they nod. Here is his intended receiver, the messenger can tell--his face, unremarkable; his eyes, drawn like tiny flames reflecting off the midnight waters. Now was the time, and here was the place where his performance made complete. In unison they step to one another; and with each of these final steps the weight of the bag becomes heavier, harder, and more impossible to carry.

When he had set out, it was easily held in one hand; but now he must use both to continue. Another step and he must carry the parcel closer to his chest lest he topple over. Another step and it is as if he carries a thousand pounds or more as the messenger struggles to maintain footing and is nearly stooped over by the profound mass the package represents.

Together at last, mere arms length apart, the two stand. The boy heaves a mighty lift with all his remaining power, and the man--was he truly just a man?--with great ease took the bundle and held it close to his face.

From within the bag, a glow emerged, pulling, pawing, and tearing at the seams. The package seemed to shake and shimmer with life. On its own as tiny beams of light poured out like the first rays of the sun upon an unsuspecting morning.

"The package is delivered," said the boy, "my duty is done."

"Indeed," the reply with a smile. "And a ponderous gift you bring!"

The boy looked in wonder at the lights on display that came from the bag.

"Did you not open it?" He was asked.

"No, it was not for me or my eyes to see."

"Pity," he said, "you could have used some of this."

"What is it?"

"Revolution and freedom," the solemn reply.

And the boy, bowed low his head, turned and walked to return to whence he came, just like the good slave that he is. He did not know what he had until it had left his care. The freedom was not meant for him.

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