The fire grew intense — it needed to be on this cold early spring evening. The Man settled back into his seat after putting two more logs on. He pulled his fur overcoat tighter as he looked deeply into the flames. The light flickered and danced boldly across his weathered face.
The shore gently lapped as the water came up and retreated. Wave after wave created the white noise to trance the most active mind. The Man reflected, soul stretched farther than any man before him.
He exhaled sharply as a chill ran up his back and drew closer to the fire. The crimson light of the smoldering fire faded in the sand and rocks on the beach. His eyes followed the next source of light above him, the reflective shards of the shattered moon. Time trudged passed as The Man sat warming himself — feeling the searing heat felt on his knees and face but slow to warm his core.
The Man’s mind wandered as it often did to his time spent alone in life. He’s seen much. Loved some. Lost more. Fought some. Prayed more.
The fire crackled and popped. The orange and white embers at the heart of the flames oscillated color. The mature flame consumed with a peaceful allure.
The flames brought The Man’s mind back to sitting around the cooking fire with his daughters. There had never been anything better in life than returning from a hunt to his babies. They would run back and forth in their little moccasins from the fires back then, entertained by a simple stick game; how close could they run up with dried leaves on a stick and not have it catch fire. Then scamper backward giggling.
Life was much less complicated then, that was the life of living. No matter how much you’ve been given, time doesn’t heal all wounds. Outliving his daughters, tribe, country, kind, still sits with him all these years later. He holds onto the hope of seeing them again but he’s lost track of how much time he actually has left.
Since the life sentence was delivered by the messenger, The Man did his best. One sees much in three million years. Try as he may, death and age never found him. A hundred years pass since he was born as a Cheyenne and saw the rise of skyscrapers in New York. A thousand years pass to step foot on Ganymede. Ten thousand to see a genetic divergence from Homo sapiens. A hundred thousand to see the start of man’s final demise with the eruption of Yellowstone. A couple million more of watching and praying for lives lost eons ago.
The fire has since dwindled as he made yet another evening’s worth of reflection. The glowing hot tōtara embers radiated.
A set of footsteps approached in the sand and pebble mixture behind him in the dark early morning. The Man was unfazed. There was something that caught The Man’s attention, something he hadn’t heard in a long time, words.
He didn’t break his gaze from the coals, knees still roasting warm. Steam rising off him.
“Peter’s ready for you,” the messenger said in The Man’s native Cheyenne. A long pause without breaking gaze before The Man smiled. “You’re the last one,” the messenger continued in another language long extinct.
The Man rose from his seat and turned. Greeted his visitor and they walked away from the heat to go home.