The gentle water rose and sank on the beach. Hot sand warmed the body. The fresh smell of nature was welcoming. Though the clouds loomed overhead, it was a beautiful day. One could die here peacefully.
The worn-down wooden docks led to the little island in the middle of the sea. The island, sprouting only three trees, had a little silent house atop it. There lived an older man, minding his own business for the past several years.
Every day he would come outside to water his flowers around the house, even giving the three trees a little love too. He would put his hand in his pocket where he always held onto a little seed, one he hadn’t planted yet. He didn’t know when the right time would be, or where exactly it should go, and until he knew, he would always keep it in his pocket.
Then the old man would read, something he cherished doing. Over the years, the man collected many books and have read them all at least twice. He missed out on a lot when he was away and wanted to make up for it.
His life consisted of war. From an early age and for many years of his life. And he was good at what he did. It was all he knew. It was what kept him fed. To kill. Though… regrettable in his later years. It was always regrettable.
He got to travel the world though.
The man preferred not to reflect much on his choices. He’d much rather read his books. Escape in a faraway fantasy where life took a different turn. Where things were easier, less cruel. In books, the man could forget who he was, forget what he had done. In books, the man was happy.
Mealtimes were quiet. The man would picnic, listening to the gently waves crashing on the shore. Afterwards, he would sit on the beach. He’d read most of the time, but there was always time to let his mind wander.
It always ended on death; he couldn’t prevent it. He knew he could never forget, no matter how hard he tried. He knew he had to accept what he had done. That he was a part of the problem. Or once was.
Though him leaving didn’t stop the fighting. He laid down his gun when he had enough. When he killed enough. When he finally grew a heart and realized what he had done, all he had done was unforgivable. He didn’t forgive himself, even when he was awarded medals for his efforts.
Some kill for pleasure, or because they are sick. They end up in jail if the system allows it. Others, like the old man, kill because of belief. Because of honor. Brainwashed into thinking it was the right thing to do. They don’t go to jail but get rewarded.
The old man laid down his gun when the realization struck that there was no difference in his mind. That he killed for honor, for belief, but also for pleasure. He laid down his gun and walked away from the world, not seeing fit to mingle with it any longer.
He took his grandfather’s home, atop a small island in the middle of the sea. There he lived as happily as he could with the ever-growing regret of his life. There he read, to get away from the regret, the sadness it filled him with.
And through isolation the old man became disconnected from the world.
Years went by. The war raged on, but the old man lived in silence on the island by the sea. The war never got to him, never heard a single shot. He was truly alone to his thoughts, both bright and dark. The world went on without him, and he liked that very much. He enjoyed the sound of nature, the peace of it, even if it didn’t forgive him for what he did.
The world went on, in a ball of fire as the old man slept. He dreamt of a new kind of world. A world where people were friendly. Where they weren’t selfish. A world where people got along and lived in silent harmony.
The world went on, twisted metal and poisonous air as the old man read. He read of a farm. A farm with a peaceful family; their main problem being inexperience with farming. They figured it out in the end, through challenging work and determination.
The world went on, silent, just like the old man’s house by the sea. Eerie stillness like the forest nearby. The old man slept, dreaming of a better world.
The world went on, nothingness surrounding the little house on an island by the sea. Untouched by conflict. Peaceful as can be. The old man cherished his time here, happy to have come. Disconnection was his saving grace from a world with only one end. A world in which he never had to see come to fruition.
The old man never forgot his part in the world’s history, though he’d like to try. But he found himself again. He found his peace in a world undone by man. He ended up his own fantasy story, living a happily ever after, isolated. A pocket surrounded by fire.
Would the darkness fine its way to the old man? Only time would tell, but in the old man’s life, it never came close.
He laid in his bed, resting peacefully. His time was up, and though no one else would take his place in the world, the old man accepted that. The world wasn’t what he had hoped for, what he wanted, but it was the one he found himself in. There was no changing that.
While others fight for a better world, the old man chose to live in it. And just be.
As nature overtook his silent house by the sea over many years, the old man became the center for a new tree, the seed he always carried with him. It sprouted from where the man lay peacefully on his bed, a silent hope for a new world.