(Flash Fiction) A young man learns that some things ought to be universal.
|Paul, a young tradesman, ran through the forest toward his clan's home. He saw an old man, bent over so far that his long, white beard dragged on the dirt path as he walked. He was in the way, but he would surely step aside to allow a tradesman to pass. When he did not, the men collided, falling to the ground.
The old man hacked into his hand as he struggled to get up. He continued struggling as Paul brushed the dirt off his shoulders.
"You ought to watch for people approaching," the tradesman said. "I have walked the globe and never seen one so clumsy."
The old man was still struggling to his feet and did not respond.
"Curses!" Paul said, pulling shards of broken, colored glass from his sack. "I will put you to death, old man!"
But the old man only stared at him. His gaping mouth had no tongue, and his eyes were vacant.
"How can you—" Paul started to say. Living in such a state, was it even living? He wondered how he could help a man who could not speak.
As if to answer his question, the old man pulled a scroll from his backpack and rolled it open, showing the name "Lensin." He pulled another scroll, a blank one, and quickly filled it with symbols using a quill pen. It read: "I apologize for any trouble I have caused."
"The fault is mine." Paul gave a terse bow, raising his eyes to look at Lensin. "I should not assume people are fortunate to be as healthy as I am."
The next note read, "Compassion is a straight path, not a fork in the road: I am no more deserving of kindness for being blind and mute."