The Shovel 

After many years on the road, the wanderer at last found a place where he wished to settle. Not far to the west, great waves washed the sands and stones of the shore. To the north and east, black mountains of dark pines, pale birch, and snowy peaks surged upward. All around where he stood at the crossroads, the golden fields seemed to burn with the finest wildflowers in brilliant shades of white, indigo, violet, mauve, pink, and saffron. There were cool snowdrops, damp bluebells, silent lilies and gentle osteospermums. Wherever he looked, he saw places he could walk, streams to cross, logs and rocks tosit on, as well as rolling fields of barley, switchgrass and goldenrod to get lost in. Then suddenly, he saw the many corpses lying hidden in the grass throughout the meadows. Blood stains burned in a myriad of harsh tones–vermillion, crimson, umber, and purple. Cold, glassy eyes stared down into the soil or up into the lofty clouds crossing the warm blue sky. War, plague or famine had passed through. To burn the corpses would destroy the great fields. The wanderer searched the countryside and found an old shack with tools. Borrowing a shovel, he started the arduous labour of digging graves for each and every body. Some days later, the work was done. The wanderer returned the shovel to the old shack and left. The days passed, and he tried his hand at different trades, traveling from one place to another—fixing lightbulbs, stacking discarded rubber tires, washing bottles and mason jars. No matter where he went or how hard he worked, he found great sorrow and treachery. Furthermore, he often had nightmares of the blood stains and dead faces he had buried. One day, after losing another position in yet another pointless enterprise, he wandered back to the crossroads with its fine fields of wildflowers, its cool winds, mountains and seas close by. The haunted emptiness was intense and deep, but within he found the old shack, the strong shovel and his beloved snowdrops and bluebells. The old shack itself was shabby and ghosted, and yet also clean and peaceful. The wanderer installed some new light bulbs and put the kettle on. It was a good place to live. 

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