He finds the talisman among the other treasures strewn
about the dragon’s lair. However, he does not know exactly
what he has found. The talisman strikes him immediately
as valuable and possibly very powerful. All the other riches
in the cavern shrink away as he becomes transfixed
by the artifact in his hand. From that moment forward,
the talisman manipulates him, subtly, through some
subconscious effect of its power. All power corrupts
(to some end. What end? What lies at the root
of such an obsession?)
Here, he notices right in front of him a girl he’d never seen before.
She looks across a table at him with curious if stern eyes.
She was adamant about gaining his attention–
GIRL: (simply.) Can you talk?
BOY: (confused; abruptly.) Yes.
GIRL: (after an awkward silence.) Why did I even ask?
BOY: (as she walks away.) I am not powerless.
He didn’t actually say that, not with words anyway. His body
radiated it, however. He knew he was no longer in a treasure-filled
crevice deep beneath a dark mountain. But where? It seemed
to him that the stone walls were merely the night,
starless perhaps but wide open.
Maybe the talisman blinded him, changed the picture in his eyes
into visual incomprehensibility, too thin on detail and streaked
with pointless, jigsaw contours. Why didn’t he
just close his eyes and listen?
MAN: What I realized later on was that life-changing events
don’t always have auspicious beginnings. I never saw
the potential in a simple phrase or a look.
WOMAN: Subtlety speaks quietly yet with no less passion
than a full-throated roar.
MAN: I wish I’d known where that kind of narrative might
have lead me.
WOMAN: I believe, forgive me for saying, that you erred only
in trying to write the story all on your own.
He folded up his inkless map and filed it away in his knapsack.
Anxiously, he looked as far down the dusty road
as he could in the dim light . . . .
Oh, love! Why measure your steps anymore?
You know this place by heart.
He relinquished the old relic and it dropped somewhere below him
far out of his vision. Light fluttered to him on delicate wings.
Breathless, he walked into the future
and never looked back.
Copyright 2011 by Michael Marsters.
All rights reserved.