Becomes One Hundred Stories #15: Knows Not What to Do

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.

Knows Not What to Do

The boy did not know what to do.

The boy had visited the hermit’s cave in the sparsely populated area of his homeland each day for a week, and he still did not know what to do.

The hermit’s bones remained in a pile under the strange writing on the back wall of the cave. The bones and the writing were all that he could find in the cave. The cave was small. The boy only had to take twenty steps to reach the back of the cave.

The boy’s torch flickered. The boy had been in the cave long enough for the oil in the cloth strips to burn up.

And the boy still did not know what to do.

Each day for the past week the boy had followed the same routine. He arrived at the hermit’s old cabin that stood falling down on the other side of the meadow—the meadow just around the shoulder of the hill that had a rockslide at its base. The cave was a short distance above the rockslide. The boy arrived at the hermit’s cabin and prepared a torch, then he crossed the meadow and mounted the rockslide, and at the mouth of the cave he built a fire to light the torch. Then the boy entered the mostly empty cave and contemplated the strange writing on the wall and contemplated the hermit’s bones. He did not contemplate much else in the cave because nothing else was in the cave to contemplate. The boy contemplated what he had to contemplate until the torch died, and then he left the cave and returned the spent torch to the hermit’s cabin across the meadow. Sometimes the boy took a nap in the hermit’s decaying bed. Then the boy returned to the place where he and his mother lived for a short time with the people he called grandpa and grandma.

But this day was different. This day, the boy did not know what to do as he stood in the cave and tried to contemplate the strange writing on the back wall and the hermit’s bones under the strange writing. The boy did not feel like contemplating the strange writing and the hermit’s bones. He had done that enough already in the days before.

The torch flickered, but it did not yet go out. The boy had just entered the cave and the torch had much fuel left, and the boy would have much time to be in the cave.

But the boy did not know what to do in the cave that day.

The boy rubbed the torch on the ground until the flame died.

The boy sat in the semi-darkness of the cave. The cave was only semi-dark because the entrance to the cave was only twenty of the boy’s paces away, and much light entered the cave from that distance, but not enough light for the boy to see the strange writing on the back wall of the cave or the pile of the hermit’s bones under the strange writing.

The boy sat in the semi-darkness beside the hermit’s bones. The boy wondered if the blood had been the hermit’s blood. The boy wondered about the blood that formed the letters on the back wall of the cave, but he did not contemplate what the letters in the language he did not know might mean in the words written in blood on the back wall of the cave. The boy did not contemplate the words, but he did wonder about the blood in the letters. He wondered if the blood had been the hermit’s blood or if the blood had been the blood of some animal. And the boy knew deep down that the blood had been the hermit’s blood. And he also knew deep down that the hermit had not died from spilling so much of his own blood to write so much on the back wall of the cave. The boy did not know why he decided deep down that the blood had been the hermit’s blood and that the hermit had not died from spilling so much blood. He did not know, and he knew that he could be wrong, but he knew he was likely not wrong. But he still left open the possibility that he could be wrong.

The boy sat in the semi-darkness beside the hermit’s bones under the strange writing on the back wall of the cave, and he no longer wondered about the blood. He did not feel like contemplating the strange writing or the hermit’s bones, and he no longer wondered about the blood. He just sat in the semi-darkness for a long time because he did not know what else to do.

And he thought about the village girl. The boy thought about the village girl, and he was glad she was his friend. She had never returned with the boy to the cave since they had discovered it together long ago after climbing one of the mountains that rose above the deep forest below.

The village girl had not returned to the cave nor to the hermit’s cabin nor the waterfall that blocked the short way home and forced them to take the long way home. She certainly did not ever return to any of the mountains with the boy since that day he had dragged her up the mountain and took her home too late.

The village girl had nothing more to do with the deep forest or anything that lay within it, but she was still the boy’s friend, and she still visited the boy sometimes in the place where he hid in the rocks beside the river and watched the village. She sometimes visited him there and often invited him to eat his evening meal with her and her mother and her older sister.

Much time had passed since the young man from the big city had hurt the village girl. Much time had passed since the boy had made sure the young man from the big city would never again hurt the village girl—or anyone else.

Much time had passed since the bad things had happened, and the village girl had recently begun telling the boy about some of the things her sister did with her sister’s boyfriends.

The village girl made the boy feel funny when she told him such things, but she hadn’t asked the boy to kiss her since the young man from the big city had hurt her.

And the boy wished the village girl was with him in the cave next to the hermit’s bones under the strange writing on the back wall of the cave. The boy wished the village girl was with him right then, and the boy began to feel funny, and he wanted the girl to be with him right then so he could kiss her. He wanted to kiss her then more than he had ever wanted to kiss her before. He wanted to kiss her, and he decided that he would kiss her that night in the place where he hid in the rocks beside the river. And if she did not meet him at the place where he watched the village, then he would go to the place where she lived with her mother and older sister and he would take her to the place where she sometimes visited him in the rocks beside the river and he would kiss her like he had never kissed her before. And if she was not at home, he would go find her and kiss her and tell her that everything was okay and that everything would be okay as long as he was around.

The boy thought about the other things that the village girl told him she had seen her older sister do with her sister’s boyfriends and the boy began to feel funny. The boy did not want to do such things with the village girl, but the way he felt funny when he thought about such things made him think he could do such things with her if she really wanted him to after he kissed her.

The boy liked how he felt funny, and he wondered why he only felt that way when he thought about the village girl. When he thought about kissing the village girl and when he thought about the other things the village girl’s older sister did with her boyfriends.

The boy sat in the semi-darkness beside the hermit’s bones under the strange writing on the back wall of the cave. And he still did not know what to do.

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

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