Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Microstory 1797: Dying Alone

I had a pretty rough life, full of death and despair. My father died in the war before I was born. My mother never said much about him. I couldn’t get the sense of whether he was a hero, or a jerk. I think the problem was that she didn’t really love him anyway. She died of cancer when I was eight, leaving me to be raised by my grandparents, who were both so old that they died within a year of each other by the time I turned sixteen. The state awarded me emancipation, so I just took care of myself from then on. I met a great girl at her college. I wasn’t in college, I just worked maintenance there, but she didn’t make me feel bad about myself. We were in love, but she died trying to give birth to our third child, who also died. I had to raise our boy and girl on my own, and we managed to get through it, even with all this heartache; that is, until my son got himself killed in a car accident when he was 28. My one remaining child actually managed to make it to her forties before she succumbed to lung cancer, just like the grandmother she never knew. In the latter’s case, it was surely the cigarettes. In my daughter’s case, it was just because life is unfair, and there is no good left in the world. So there I was, a sixtysomething guy with no family left, and no more drive to do anything with myself. Everything around me reminded me of someone I cared about—who God took from me too soon. I had to get away from it. I had to get away from everything. There weren’t a whole lot of places left to hide away in modern times. Used to be, people we called mountain men owned whatever territory they claimed, and no one gave them any trouble. Now the government has all these rules,  and even publicly available pieces of land are heavily regulated. To live a new remote life, I was going to need some help.

I didn’t have any money, so I couldn’t buy up a bit of land myself. I may have been able to afford a single acre if I had stayed in the workforce for a few more years, but no one wants to sell that little unless maybe it’s on the edge of their property. The edge of any property is usually too close to another property to satisfy my needs. I remember knocking on the door, and I remember talking to the farmer and his daughter, but I don’t recall how I convinced them to let me live on their back forty. I’m sure I told them the God’s honest truth about why I wanted to live in the wilderness, and that I didn’t want to cause any trouble. I don’t remember if he hesitated either, but it obviously ended up working out, because he showed me a patch of land that he didn’t need for other purposes, and it was great. I was planning to live with the bare essentials, but he gave me more than I needed. He chose a spot right next to a creek of clean water. He let me have some pots and other tools that were just taking up space in his attic after he upgraded. I had my own tent, but it wasn’t rated for winter. He donated a brand new one that his daughter asked to buy for me instead of her Christmas gifts. I later carved her a nice birdhouse as a thank-you. She invited me over for family get-togethers a few times, but she grew up to understand that the point of this was to live alone, and not get attached to people, since I felt cursed, and didn’t want to go through that again. She ended up taking over the farm, and continued to fight off the authorities when they came to complain about me living there every few years. I never got over my depression, but I figured out how to live fairly comfortably for the rest of my life until I died, hoping to finally see my loved ones again.

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