Book of Days: December 6, Spirit in the Mountain

I once asked my grandmother about the noises that reached us from the mountains, and this is what she said.

Long ago, before the valley was settled, a man from a village far away came to leave his life behind. He once had a large family, but misery arrived and he lost them one by one. He no longer wished to live in that place, no longer wished to be around others, and so he walked until he found a place where he could be alone.

He did not realize that while there are places where people are not, there is no place in this world where one is ever alone, and he was not the first to come to this valley to get away from other people. Among the spirits here there was one who was vexed by his presence, who resented people and the way they moved into places in the world as though all spaces should admit them, and so this spirit found the man to be everything it hated about us all.

The man, who was too lost in his grief to note the valley was not as empty as it appeared, did not at first notice the things the spirit did to vent its annoyance. When things were moved in his camp, he assumed he had moved them, for he found he often went through his life in a daze. When the spirit cried in the night to disturb his sleep, then man did not notice, for his sleep was disturbed by his own memories. When the spirit made to trip him, arranged things that would fall, sought to contrive accidents that might frighten or harm, the man looked at the results and was not disturbed by them, or, on particularly dark days, felt a twinge of remorse that it had not functioned as intended.

Nothing the spirit did could get through the man’s grief, and in its frustration, it began to focus more and more upon the man who wanted to be alone. Before long, it became a routine. As the man’s grief lessened over time, he still thought nothing of the things moving in his camp, for by that point he had grown used to it. He did not wake at the sounds in the night, for they had gone on long enough he thought it was merely something in the valley. He no longer wished for the accidents to have succeeded, but he did not think anything of the near misses, for by now he knew the valley to be a more dangerous place than he’d first imagined, though he did not yet realize the true reason why this was so.

The spirit, once enraged, became merely flummoxed.

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by | Dec 6, 2021