Becomes One Hundred Stories #18: Wonders What Went Wrong

This is a piece of short fiction in the style and universe of three of my novels: Becomes the Happy Man, Becomes God’s Silent Prophet, and Becomes the Meaning Blossom.

rags

Wonders What Went Wrong

She had just left.

The young man stood at the door and wondered what went wrong. The ragman’s daughter had not shown any sign of discomfort throughout the evening.

The young man had met the ragman’s daughter down by the river. He had been working and she had come by carrying a load of rags for her father. Too large a load of rags. She had dropped one bundle near the place where the young man worked beside the river.

The young man had stopped his work and lifted the bundle for her. He had put it on top of the other bundles she carried.

The ragman’s daughter thanked the young man.

The young man said nothing. He said nothing because he watched the bundles waver as the ragman’s daughter walked away. He was convinced she would drop the bundle again.

The young man said he would help her.

And he did.

The young man took two bundles from her load and he walked along the river with the ragman’s daughter. The ragman’s daughter walked easier along the river with the young man than she had before he helped her.

The ragman’s daughter did not say anything. She just walked easier along the river with the young man.

The young man asked where the ragman’s daughter was taking her bundles of rags.

The ragman’s daughter told the young man where she was taking her bundles of rags.

The young man said that was not too far. He said that was not too far and then he asked what that place did with the rags.

The ragman’s daughter said the place made paper out of the rags.

The young man said he thought paper was made from wood pulp not rags.

The ragman’s daughter said some paper was made from wood pulp and some paper was made from rags and some was made from both.

The young man asked how.

The ragman’s daughter said how what.

The young man said how did the place they were taking the bundles of rags to make paper out of the rags.

The ragman’s daughter said she didn’t know.

The young man and the ragman’s daughter walked along the river in silence.

They walked in silence until the young man asked the ragman’s daughter her name.

She told him. She told him her name and then she asked him his name.

He told her. He told her and then he said he had seen her walking along the river with her bundles of rags many times when he worked by the river.

The ragman’s daughter said she had seen the young man a few times when she carried her bundles along the river past the place where the young man sometimes worked.

The young man asked her if she had seen him working any other places.

The ragman’s daughter said no.

The young man said he hadn’t seen her anywhere except along the river where he sometimes worked.

The ragman’s daughter said she was not from that area.

The young man said he was not from that area either, but he had probably lived in that area longer than she had.

The ragman’s daughter said probably.

The young man watched the way the ragman’s daughter carried her load and he was satisfied that her load was balanced and not too heavy.

The young man said it was the first time he had seen her trying to take too heavy a load.

The ragman’s daughter said business had been good lately.

The young man said he would help her any time she needed it.

The ragman’s daughter said didn’t he have his own work to do.

The young man said he could do his work and help her too. He said if he worked by the river and she passed by with too heavy a load, he would help her take it to the place that made rags into paper.

The ragman’s daughter said she didn’t always take her bundles of rags to the place that made rags into paper.

The young man asked where else she took her bundles.

The ragman’s daughter did not answer. She did not answer because they had arrived at the place that made rags into paper.

The ragman’s daughter said they had arrived, and she led the young man inside.

Inside, the papermaker’s daughter took the bundles of rags from the ragman’s daughter, and she weighed them and told the ragman’s daughter how much they weighed and how much currency she would pay for that weight of rags.

The ragman’s daughter said that sounded right.

The papermaker’s daughter looked at the young man and smiled. She remembered him from school.

The young man smiled at the papermaker’s daughter, but he did not remember her from school.

The ragman’s daughter saw the papermaker’s daughter and the young man smile at each other. She said she had other business to attend to.

The papermaker’s daughter gave the ragman’s daughter the currency due.

The young man followed the ragman’s daughter outside.

The young man asked the ragman’s daughter if he could walk with her along the river back to the place where he worked.

The ragman’s daughter said she had shopping to do in the other direction.

The young man asked if the ragman’s daughter would have her evening meal with him that evening.

The ragman’s daughter said no she would have to cook for her father. And then she said she had forgotten that her father would be away from the place where they lived that evening, so maybe she could have her evening meal with the young man after all.

The young man said he would cook.

The ragman’s daughter asked what time.

The young man told her what time. He told her what time and he told her where he lived.

The ragman’s daughter said she could find it.

And she did.

The ragman’s daughter arrived at the place where the young man lived at the time the young man had told her, and the young man had the evening meal prepared at the time he told her she could arrive.

They ate. They ate the meal the young man had prepared.

The ragman’s daughter said the food was tasty.

The young man could not tell if she said that out of politeness or if she meant it. The young man did not think about whether his food was tasty or not. He just made food that satisfied his hunger.

The young man said the ragman’s daughter was beautiful.

The ragman’s daughter rose from the table and thanked the young man for the tasty dinner.

The young man looked at the ragman’s daughter with some surprise.

The ragman’s daughter took her hand bag and she said she was sorry but she had forgotten to feed her pet beast.

When she was gone, the young man stood at the door and wondered what went wrong.

To read more stories in the series, see the Becomes One Hundred Stories page.

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