Remembrance Of Walking
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He no longer remembered when he had not been walking.

He remembered that there were other colors once, but all he knew now was the gray-white of the bleached wood he trod, the gray-green-blue of the ocean beneath him, and the dark brown of his own tanned skin. Sometimes at dawn or dusk he saw different colors in the sky, but he no longer remembered their names. There were many things he no longer remembered. The sun and the wind and the waves and the salt baked into his flesh had flensed all unnecessary things from him, including the majority of his mind.

His possessions were long worn away and gone by that time, though he knew not how, until all that remained were a white rope and a bottle black as night. Neither could be broken, at least by his strength, and he no longer tried. He knew the rope was to tie himself to the railings at night and the bottle was to drink of not-salt liquid at dawn and dusk, but that was all.

So he walked. That he did remember, the walking. In one direction or the other, forward or back, towards the sun or away, he no longer knew whether it was important. He just knew that he must walk.

He accepted things now, without expectations. When the pathway rose and rose high above the sea, so high that he could not even feel sea spray as the waves crashed against the pillars, he accepted it. Sometimes there would be a small platform where he could huddle under a bench and sleep out of the sun. When the walkway was so low that water licked shallowly across the path, he accepted it. When the storms built and raged, he would be drenched in the pounding rain, shivering in the wet and cold. Sometimes it ended soonly and the sun would return to bake him dry, sometimes it would go for so long he thought he would be washed away.

He no longer remembered why that was a bad thing, just that it was, and so he tied himself down when the rains began. He would be battered and bruised, but with the return of sun he would walk again.

He no longer remembered when he had not been walking.

There was something different on the horizon.

He had slumbered at the top of a rise in the walkway and as he arose, he saw something far away. So far away that the line of the walkway vanished to a thread before it reached it. But there was something there. A shape, like that of storm clouds building in the distance, but it did not move or change and there was not the sickly green tinge to the air that heralded a storm of such magnitude. Rather, it was blued. A deep blue, like the overhead sky at dusk.

It made him feel. What, he no longer had words for. But it was strange and strong and roused him as salt spray no longer did. He… thirsted for it. It was not the right word, but the closest one he could conceive of.

He found himself walking down the sloping walkway, a fluttering in his chest and a new wakefulness to his eyes and mind.

There was something different on the horizon.

He knew how to walk.

It was the only thing he knew well, now. And so he walked for some time. More than a day and more than a night, but he could not remember how many. The days had always been as one for as long as he could foggily remember. The something different grew larger and larger, until it looked even taller than the walkway ever rose.

It wasn't blue any more. Now it was a different color, not the gray-green of the sea or the gray-white of the wood or the black of the bottle. A new color, one he thought he used to know. It spurred his thoughts into motion. Like the color of the sea, but brighter. He did not know the word.

But the color pleased him.

He walked closer and closer until the time came. The walkway came up to and over something strange and unsettling. Somehow the sea had ended. There were pale, small things that didn't undulate and it made him feel queasy to look at them. He lay down on the walkway and reached down and touched it gingerly. Tiny pieces of the end stuck to his finger, scratchy like dried sea-spray, but even more so. He didn't like it and scrubbed his hands until it was all gone.

He didn't trust this place where the sea ended, but the something different was so huge in front of him now, and so covered in that color. There were other, smaller things close-by that were the same color, and even they stood tall above the walkway. It was… amazing. Yes, that was a word he remembered now. Amazing.

He walked further down the walkway until it passed by one of the tall, sea-colored things. He touched it and it was scratchy, but didn't stick to his hand. It almost felt like the railings of the walkway, but they were smooth whereas this was rough. He wanted to stop and touch more of them, but the walkway extended on and up and he wanted to see more.

And he knew how to walk.

He had reached the top.

The walkway had led up and up, higher than he'd ever been before, though only a short distance above the not-sea below. There were so many different types of colors to be seen and he drank them in like a starved man at a banquet. As the sun passed overhead, he had to stop and close his eyes and lean against a railing, shuddering. It was all so much.

But there was always something more to see and so he went. Until finally he came to something new upon new. At the top of the high place was another walkway, crossing his own, making four directions to go instead of two. This was upsetting.

Forward or back, that was his life, forward or back. New directions weren't fair, didn't fit, shouldn't be there. Wronger than the gritty things where the sea ended. He didn't know what to do.

He had reached the top and it was wrong.

He sat there at the crossing for a day, tying himself to the railings as he always had. He slept and he sat and he sat and he slept, feeling his mind moving again, starting to walk again when it had once slept.

This was… a mountain. On an… island. He knew these words, but had forgotten what they meant. The choice offered by the crossing still frightened him, but he was finally thinking more clearly, enough to know that he should be thinking more clearly yet.

He decided that he would stay here, at his crossroads, with his white rope and his black bottle, until he could think more.

And so he did, for some time. More than a day and more than a night. He remembered remembering now, and words came back to him. He tried his voice and croaked like rope chafing tight against wood. He stopped that.

He decided. It was hard. He was out of practice. But he decided. He went back down the way he came, just a little, until he came to one of the growing things overhanging the walkway. He jumped, though he was out of practice with that as well, and grabbed it before climbing over the railing down to the place below the walkway.

It was soft, with little things that stuck into his hardened feet, but he didn't mind. It was new, but he would learn. Little steps, and he would learn to walk here as well.

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