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The Traveler: A Short Story Gift to All Hp Writers

The Journey

With each step he took, a small plume of dust rose from the road, mingled with the atmosphere, and disappeared.

The countryside was quiet in the late-afternoon heat, as though all sound was stifled by the oppressive temperature, the man seemingly unaware of it, one foot in front of the other, backpack slung over his ramrod frame, eyes straight ahead, determined, destination in sight.

He had come a long way since that first day, many years ago, his course vague, his purpose at that time undefined, spurred on by a desire, a passion, nebulous visions, unsure of the endgame at that time.

Many years had passed, a full lifetime of taking one step, then the next, and with each new step the destination became clearer, the purpose more-defined, until he arrived at this day, in this quiet, pastoral scene, the final act about to unfold.

Along the road

Along the road

The Scene

Ahead of him, half-mile or so, shapes began to crystalize, what first appeared to be an undulating hillside was, in reality, a gathering crowd of people, some sitting, many mingling, separated in the middle by a raised stage, perhaps ten feet in height, possibly more. As he grew closer he could make out distinguishing features, old women, young women, old men, young men, some teens, many waving programs for air-movement, not necessarily restless, seemingly relaxed.

The hills rose on three sides, towering over the gathering, trees colored in greens, different shades of, the sun sliding down behind it all, bathing the sky in golds and reds, and for one brief moment the stage turned yellow, kissed by buttercups for all to gaze at with awe.

The crowd swells in number

The crowd swells in number

The End of Anticipation

When he was no more than one-hundred yards away he saw a woman, holding a parasol, point in his direction, followed shortly thereafter, no more than ten seconds, by a second woman, then a man, the numbers multiplying quickly then, heads swiftly turning, the sound of a murmur rising over the small valley, the murmur louder with each of his steps, until every man, woman, and teen in that crowd stopped their mingling activities and looked in his direction, a solitary man walking towards them, dust rising from his worn shoes.

He reached the entrance to the acreage and the crowd parted, an aisleway formed as if by magic, no orders given, the crowd understanding without communication that the man needed a walkway. He stopped, nodded, smiled for the first time, and began to walk through the throng. Some reached out and touched him, gently, reverence for lack of a better description, wanting to say to their children, back at home, that they had touched the man, preserving that moment for years to come. Cameras clicked, cell phones recorded, and the murmuring stopped as the one they had come to hear approached the stage, climbed the stairs, shook hands with a woman standing near the microphone, and motioned, with his hands, that they should all sit down.

Placing his backpack on the stage, next to his feet, he again looked out over his followers, easily numbering a thousand, possibly more, and his smile grew larger. The woman, nameless, merely a bit-player for this dramatic event, walked to the microphone, cleared her throat, and spoke to the hushed crowd.

“The time we’ve all been waiting for is here. Our esteemed guest has arrived, and it is an honor to introduce him to you, although no introductions are truly needed. You all know him. You have read his works since you were once children. He has entertained us all for as long as we can remember. Quite frankly, I cannot imagine a world without him. We have all marveled at his words, found comfort in them, and I am sure I speak for you all when I say it is an absolute thrill to finally meet him in person.

“Without further delay, I am proud to introduce an old friend to you all . . . The Storyteller!”

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Best wishes to you all as you work to become the best storyteller you can be. Spread your wings and fly, and I’ll catch you down the Road of Life!

Bill

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