As I sit, warming my hands around my coffee cup and I think about history, my thoughts are like a cyclone. My own history? My family’s history? The history of our country? While all of these topics are important, interesting even, are they anything I want to sit here and share my conversation with? No, not really.
If I could erase the constraints of time and the constraints of space – a conversation with history could be so much more interesting.
The year was 1594.
Dust settled on the road ahead as I walked up to the barren cottage, set apart from the others by the barn that lay beneath it. I pushed through the hay, the animals and the stench to walk up the dark, small staircase to the residence upstairs. The room was small. The light was dim. Shadows danced across the walls. A solitary candle stood lit on the wooden desk across the room. Hunched over he sat. Quill in hand, staring absently at the wall, paused in thought. At his feet were, sheets upon sheets of ink stained parchment. I moved closer. The long layers of my dress rustled, catching along the floor. He looked up.
“Ah, I have been waiting for you.”
“Yes, it took me a while to walk.”
“Please, sit down, rest.”
I pulled up a small, hard wooden stool. I drew it closer and sat beside the man. Careful not to crush the parchments that lay on the floor.
“Why have you stopped writing?” I asked.
“Their story seems so sad, they are so young. I’ve lost my words in their grief.”
He put down the quill. His hands clasped together. His head low in thought.
“The power of their story is not in the happy ending,” I offer as reprieve.
He looks up at me, smiles and beckons, “But will the people still love them, even for their mistakes?”
“Yes, they will love and loathe them for their mistakes.”
He gathered the parchments in front of him, stacked them, lay them down and picked up his quill. Dipped carefully into the black ink, he etched new words onto the page.
“I have been distracted for days, the ending playing over and over again in my mind,” he muttered as he wrote.
“Your ending is perfect,” I offer.
He stops, looks up with his eyes, smiles “Will you read it?”
“I already have.”
“What do you think?”
“I fall in love with your words. I fall in love with him. So much so, that I name my son after him.”
Once again he stops writing. He leans over and clasps my hands in his, looks straight into my eyes and asks “Does life get easier than this?”
“No,” I answer, “and the distractions become far worse.”
With that, I pull away. He turns back to his quill and his words. For the afternoon, I sit in the shadows of the room and watch him write his love story.
As the day draws to an end, I realise that I must go back. To my coffee. To reality. As I walk out of his world and back into mine, he asks “Will they remember me?”
With the heavy skirts of my dress gathered in my hands, poised to walk down the stairs, I turn back. “Every single word.”
The next Conversations over Coffee link will open on
Thursday May 30, 2013 (7am EST).
The theme is Conversations with Winter
If you could speak to anyone in history – who would it be?