The Hermit

by fragmentedspeech

It was cold, but it was summer. It rained when the sun shined and blew when the air elsewhere was still. Dusk felt bright and hot on his skin and the dawn was without fresh due and polite greeting. Gusts of sad unintelligible unrest festered throughout the entire island and an absence of sanity was prevalent among its populous of one, complete unrelenting desolation in its finest form. Desolation not only of the island itself but of the mind, heart and soul of its singular inhabitant.

The hermit, I called him, the one permanent visitor to the island. His scraggly beard salty as the air of the ocean and his vocal chords if used, which they never were, just as salty and gurgled as the sea’s foam. If you were to see his figure you most certainly would mistake a barnacle stuck to his flesh here and there, only to break off upon quite the struggle. Sea lice festering within his birds nest of a beard, white as the seafoam in his lungs with hints of green as if seaweed and kelp had crawled up to his damp hovel every night and weaved itself finely into his elderly facial hair.

He once was a man, then a lost soul alone in unwanted but tolerated solitude of mental anguish and apathy. He had forgotten what it meant for others to speak, forgotten what it means to see others, for him himself to speak himself was a mysterious act which never occurred. All that was thought was no longer considered relevant and was forgotten for another day. These days consisted of idealess, ignorant and indulgent sitting and hatred. Hatred towards what? The Hermit knew what it was, infact, he knew far too well what hate was and he knew that he most certainly hated something, but what was it?

What was this hermit once, all those years ago when he first found himself on this island? For one, it was not desolate, it was filled with wonder, and two, it teemed with life and luxury. Each day the urchins he ate filled his gut one by one, their bitterness not reflecting upon his own attitude. Walking up and down the seaside searching the shore for wonderfully beautiful shells and stones without having his flesh sandblasted by the hot winds. Best of all, he was alone. Nobody would tell him what to do. He was free.

One day the sun fell from the sky. That was the day he started to transfer his makeshift driftwood chairs, held together by dried blade grass and rusty nails, as well as his palm leaf lean-to, up to higher ground inside a cave. The tide began to rise. Waters began corroding away the beautiful shells and stones he loved to hunt as well as the urchins he loved to eat.

He stood upon the cliffs edge against the gray sky and his salty coat flapped in the wind noisily like the mast of a ship. He looked out to the ocean and for the first time in months he was no longer smiling. His dead green eyes followed the waves and as the wind shot passed his ears he said clearly in a deep erupting oceanic voice “It is not fair.”

The next day the wind had subsided and the hermit had decided to mark his days he had been upon the island starting then. It was a new hobby because all of the shells were gone.

“One” he muttered in his head as he marked the inside wall of his stone hovel with a sharp white shell, the last shell he had saved from his hunts.

He had been on the morning prowl for breakfast with a frown upon his face. No urchins in site, but what was this that the hermit’s pondering eyes spy burst from the white seafoam barrier? A meaty green crab scuttling its way onto the beach. Starving he ran as fast as he could, being soaking wet and barefoot in the sand his speed was greatly reduced to that of a periwinkle and if he was any wetter it would have been that of a dormant barnacle.

He reached for the green crab and hefted it above himself into the air in success and for a moment a smile across his salty beard was seen before he heard a slight frothy fizzling and then a raspy deep mans voice echoed through his arms and into his ears.

“Hey, would you mind putting me down buddy, I’m scuttling here.”

Alarmed, the hermit threw the green crab down and as he did so he heard another alarming echo

“Owe, hey, thanks I guess.”

He was fascinated and then laughed at the thought that he was going completely insane.

“Crabs can not talk” The hermit spat out rudely and obviously ignorantly seeing how as one just did.

“Maybe people just don’t listen you know? I’m used to it, never being listened to, It’s a real pain, but I’m sure everyone listens to you, no?” The green grab fizzled and it echoed.

“I am–was a captain of a cargo ship, everybody listens to me, I’m the boss”

Fizzles of doubt echoed out “Well isn’t that fortunate, do you think they would listen to you otherwise? Say…if you were a crab?”

“well, no I suppose not…”

“I like you, you’re honest.” It fizzled again.

And that was the beginning of a the hermits smile, a smile that lasted exactly five years, fifty-three days, five hours and a couple of minutes, or however long you can go without eating plus or minus the amount of time it takes to crack open a gigantic green crab that can talk and eat it completely until you gained five point five three five two pounds in one sitting.

In the short run the hermit was full and in the long run he was sad. Very sad. So damned salty and sour he vowed to never speak again. To never allow another creature to come into contact with him for their own protection. Years past, and years, and years. It was one of those days of forgotten thoughts to think about and forget again for another day of apathetic reasoning and in the wind and sand and water he had a small spark of real remembrance, the green grab. His only friend he had ever had, a creature who listened to what he had to say, he spoke to and was spoken back to and he remember about hate and hatred and he–”I ate him… I ate him..”.

Tears so salty they burned the old mans skin, they ran down his face in streams like the waves that crashed upon the shore. The memory replayed over and over in his small absent mind the only thing he no longer could forget, he had spoken and could now never forget again, no matter how much he tried. He knelt upon the cliff of unfairness and wept, harder than he ever had. He looked up to the swirling gray storm, wind shooting past his ears and he spoke with a clear erupting oceanic voice

“I know who I hate and that is what is not fair”.

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