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January 5, 2018

3. The Tourist

The Tourist could see the island. He had seen it frequently. With no apparent justification or reason, it was forbidden to visit, look at, discuss. It was completely ignored. But what a mysterious and beautiful place, the way the sun and moon would always seem to point to it on their quotidian and ceaseless journey through the heavens.

One evening, walking the shore, he came across a boat up on the beach, suggesting and welcoming a journey to the nameless island. He didn’t think twice and pulled it’s dead weight through wet sand and into the sleepy tide. Oars are conveniently stocked under the seat and he pushed out.

Less than an hour later the little boat choked up onto the beach and he hopped out to properly land the thing. His legs wet up to his shins. 
From this side of the water his previous location seems eerie and somehow wrong—as if this was divined to be his destination, departing the mainland, exploring the forbidden.

As he past the seagrass up the dune he could see a lonely cabin. There looked to be a faint glow from inside the house. He approached with a determined confidence that unsettled even him.

He pushed the cracked door fully open to a large open floorplan. To the right was a fireplace with a lively fire with two leather high-backed wing chairs. With suddenty he realized the top of a man’s head sitting in one of the chairs. His mouth could not form words but it wasn’t from fear. Instead he slowly moved up and into view to exercise kindness and sensitivity, to make himself known. Quietly he cleared his throat. What was this place?

“Sit. Please.” The voice was thick and warm, inviting in its simple and familiar tone. The slightest gesture from the man’s fingers accompanied his request.

He did what he was told without question or hesitation. In silence the two men sat, mostly facing the fire, not quite facing each other.
After some timeless moments he opened his eyes to realize the man was no longer seated beside him. Had he fallen asleep? Exhaustion is more powerful than alertness. What felt like hours could have been mere minutes. Perhaps the other man had left for more firewood or to make some tea.

His eyes locked on the fire and he simply watched for a while longer.

The door creaked open and peacefully pulled him back to alert consciousness. Before he could turn around he felt himself speak before thinking, “Sit. Please.” The words left his mouth before they were ever crossed his conscious. It startled him.

A man sat in the adjacent chair, not quite facing him. His legs were wet up to his shin.

This story does not fit into any larger narrative. I would like to revisit this passage and contextualize the mainland and the island. I think more effort can be written in the motif of crossing a body of water from one metaphysical environment to another: I considered having a Charon-like river man to further push the Styx metaphor. Another effort was to push a Borgesian-style of playing with time and physical placement: the ending repeats the beginning.