The Night Horn


100_0646.JPGA horn blows from atop a mountain through the valley, sonorously rebounding across the snowy ridges, and a boy awakens in the night to find himself not at all sleepy, although he had been utterly exhausted when he went to bed. He climbs out of the sheets and fits himself into warm clothes and sits for a while in the darkness, listening to the horn blowing intermittently, a sustained deep note, perhaps only of some hippie stoned at a ski resort, working the night snowmaking shift. Whatever the intent of the blower, it is beautiful and mystical all the same, this long horn blown across the slumbering mountain town like a pagan call to arms, or an islam call to prayer. As the echoes trail off into ridges beyond, finally into silence, the space is blended back into the stream sounds of cars passing on the highway. The boy stretches out on the living room carpet like a cat and feels how he is only a temporary inhabitant of his own body. How he is in some sense akin to the breaths that dilate and distend his lungs, to the sounds of the lonely horn across the mountains and the silence that it leaves–an emptying and filling that are both equally hollow, equally meaningful, equally dependent on each other for continuance.

He had walked past his grandfather 2 weeks ago in an open casket, and saw how empty his body was, how withered and frail and blue. But just the day before he collapsed in the living room, grandpa had been telling sea stories and waving his pipe through the air like a wand, filled with life and insight, laughter and kinetic silence. There is now that space of energy missing in the house, the space that he didn’t even know was there until it was gone. The boy misses his grandfather incredibly, and feels strongly the emptiness in his heart. An emptiness that parallels his own aliveness, that runs concurrent with how aware and awake he feels at this very moment in the middle of the night. His grandfather has left behind his body like a breath leaves through a mouth. The boy breathes in and feels how his life is somehow inseparable with death, with his own death, with his grandfather’s death. How every movement, breath, and thought is tied equally to its opposite in some unknown world without forms. How every object has a shadow in the sun. How every event has a cause, and an effect. How everything in the universe, it seems, is one giant organism, intertwined, tangled, and slouching towards its omega point.

The boy listens to the passing of the cars for a while longer, thinking nothing. Then he says goodnight to his grandfather and crawls back into bed and sleeps deeply, until the smell of maple syrup will awaken him to the day.

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Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

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