(found atop a pile of oak woodchips)
I appreciate the money, but I must send it back with you. I’d keep it if I could, but I know of no place that will exchange or accept foreign currency. I figure you’d get better use of it than I would just staring at it. So here it is again.
Rosa’s optimistic as always. When I told her that I was sending back the money to you, she didn’t even flinch – even though our pantry’s bare and our clothes are starting to wear through. She tells me not to worry. She says soon enough the mill will start up again and I’ll be back in a regular job. She tells me not to worry, but I can’t help it. She does make me so happy, though. That’s about the only time when I’m not worrying – when I’m around her – and, boy, those moments make me feel lucky.
It’s good to hear that Hermann is getting back into good health. We send him our prayers, and we send you all our love. Things are going pretty normal over here, but something pretty spooky happened to me last week. Rosa tells me not to worry about it, but I can’t help it.
Here’s the story.
I was walking through the big oak forest one morning. It was early enough that the sun hadn’t yet enough time to burn through the fog. I like that, just strolling through the mist between the tree trunks, breathing in the thick, wet air. It’s good for me.
Then I heard my name being called out. I turned quickly – because I swear the voice was behind me – but nobody was there. I turned again, and I stopped right in my boots.
There was a man right in front of me, not two inches before my nose, just like he appeared out of nowhere.
He had a great, bushy beard and long eyebrows. His hair was pulled back behind his ears where – I swear – it just disappeared back into the fog. His face was clean, even though the rest of him looked as though it had been tramping around the forest for years.
“You had a bad last couple of months, didn’t you Franz?” he said. His breath smelled like chocolate.
I couldn’t say a thing. I started nodding my head, because it has been bad. It was a bad couple of months. My whole body began shuddering. Real bad couple of months.
“Let me speak,” the man says. “I can give you something that will make it all better. In my pocket I have a pill that will put you into a dream. You take it tonight and you fall asleep. Tomorrow morning you wake up – but you’re still in a dream, a dream that will last until you die. You’ll forget all about me and the pill in this dream. You’ll think it’s just your normal life. Understand?”
I nodded my head again.
“Good, good. It will seem like your normal life, but it won’t be. This dream life will be better than this life, the one you live right now. I can’t say why, and I can’t say how, but in this dream, I can promise, your life will be better. It won’t be perfect, in fact it won’t be close to perfect, but it will be, vaguely, mysteriously, better than what you have right now. Understand?”
I finally spoke. “Yes sir.”
“Good, good,” the man said. “So, would you like the pill?”
“No sir,” I said.
The man smiled. “May I ask why?”
“Well, sir, you see, I don’t have it the best right now,” I said. “I know I don’t. But I also don’t have it the worst. I have some happy moments, some very happy moments, and I value them. I value all of the moments, sir, even the bad ones. And I think part of the reason I value them is because they’re real. They’re not illusions or anything like that. They’re real moments that I’m actually experiencing.”
We stood in silence for a few seconds. He kept smiling, still inches from my nose. Then he says “Well that’s not what you told me last week.”
I blinked and he disappeared.
I’m not sure what to make of it. Rosa says not to worry, but I can’t help it.
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