Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.
I awoke exhausted for no reason I can discern. I slept well and deeply. The sun is out and bright in the sky after two days of snow and dreariness. I can hear birds chirping in the trees, a wonderful salve.
Everywhere one looks there is someone telling you how to fill the endless hours that stand before us and the end of this moment, whenever that may come. This is what you can do to fill the time, that is how to best work at home, here are some exercises to help stay active. How dreary it all seems, this frenzy to look for things to fill the empty days. The niggling worry is that all our days before were similarly empty and we just as desperately tried to fill them with meaning. Now, trapped in our homes, there is nowhere to hide from this revelation.
I miss the luxury of a day spent at nothing. It is no luxury now; it feels more like a curse. That is of course the oldest trick the old gods played on man. Give someone what they desire and watch them fall to pieces.
I recall a journey I took to the north of the Lost Quarter as a young man. It was with an elderly gentleman, a distant relative in fact, who owned some land in the area and was going to check on matters there. He asked me to journey with him, saying that at his age he didn’t want to be caught alone on the open road should misfortune strike him. It was true that the roads were not always safe, even in those days, but I think mostly he wanted me there for the company.
He told me something of his life, how his people had come to be in the area sometime after Those Who Left were driven into their terrible exile from which they have still not been able to return. His people, as mine, were Those Who Came, leaving miserable lives in the hopes of finding something better. They built great things, some of which have lasted into this time and some of which have not.
His father was a lord of the manor in these parts, as was he now. When the gentleman was still young though his father fell ill and, as the eldest son, he had to take up the responsibilities of the land. War came, as it did everywhere in those days, and all the young men of Quarter were sent off to fight, including his younger brother. But not the gentleman. His responsibilities were to the manor and so he was obliged to stay. This pained him greatly, particularly since he was left to face the fathers and mothers of his friends who were off fighting and dying, while he stayed safe and well on the manor.
The war ended, as most wars do, and his brother returned home. Not long after his father died, leaving the manor to the brother. The gentleman did not tell me why that was so. He mentioned it as a natural occurrence, of no more note than the fact it had rained the night before. The gentleman was able to start his own manor, though how he was able to do so he also left unstated. It was within sight of his brother’s manor, the place he had grown up. They were still there, both of them, upon their manors, with children now, having expanded their properties greatly, including the northern steppe we were now going to see.
“So you see,” he said, in conclusion to his tale. “I didn’t go very far in life. Just across the road.”