The man arrived on foot. His knock on the door was comprised of such dull timber that I assumed a slab of snow had fallen from the roof. Rarely did anyone walk out of these woods and knock on our door. In fact, I would say never; let alone offer to send a message back to Vovvohstokk; and that he arrived at all was disconcerting. Poplar twigs and evergreen sprigs deeply embedded his long ginger beard. Wound about his legs was seal fascia, further covered in various animal hides, and furs. His coat was equally patchwork, episodic, the components assembled over time. He was a traveler, clearly, obviously, and appeared as someone whom you might listen to.
I did not accept his offer. His appearance was too abrupt. Not that I doubted his existence. I could see him clearly and was not afflicted by either snow blindness nor an hallucinatory mind set. He smelled and his teeth were grey, with particulate matter hanging from their interfaces, more than likely red meat. I informed him I needed time to deliberate. Inwardly, my issue had been whether or not communication in the first place would be prudent; that I needed to weigh the entire spectrum of pros and cons. I could not be certain, for instance, if M existed; that is, was alive and still maintained a residence on Sycamore and 10th. I tried to recall the block and had difficulty doing so. I tried recalling my reasoning then, prior to my departure, and couldn't . All that, for starters, these visualizations and orientations, if you will, all that took place in the course of the first six months after his appearance; with moral and metaphysical rumination carried out the latter half of that year. The man told me he would return in the Spring and he did. I informed him I needed more time. He had been standing in the sun, the icicles which had formed below his eyebrows melted, dripping water on his boots. He nodded, turned and left. I followed his travel back into the woods, through the wet snow which was more arduous than the rozen state of winter, requiring a greater exertion. I frequented the window to observe his deep snow tracks, holding my tea, and warming my hands while studying the impressions of his boots, the only regular pattern I had observed in several years. Within a week, the tracks filled through the spring melting process and I was glad I had taken the time that I had at the window.
In the course of my deliberations, I developed a clumsiness which had not afflicted me previously. Items on my desk were knocked to the floor; my typewriter keys locked up; books fell from their shelving; in attempting to remove one, I displaced another; that one would topple and I would watch it fall, as if seated in a motion picture viewing room. The joint space of my right hip degenerated further, giving rise not simply to a worse ache but an exquisitely positional pain, as if a needle, and a large one at that, had been embedded there. This additional discomfort was modulated somewhat by humidity, and to a lesser extent by cold, which was nearly always present.
The house on the far tundra and the surrounding area was rarely accessed by an outside party, certainly no one with contacts in an urban metropolis such as Vovvohstokk. In this respect, the man's appearance was puzzling, as was his function, in crossing that same vast distance which I had crossed. I did not ask him why he did what he did, and took his offer at face value, considering it seriously only because he had appeared. The effect that a missive would have on M was my primary concern although I was not sure if that should be my primary concern. The man informed me he would bring back a reply. I found this difficult to believe and wasn't sure if I wanted to receive a reply. The man, again, had made considerable effort to travel in that one direction then travel back. As I said, I had made the same journey and understood the nature of his effort.
To discuss my present circumstance would be irrelevant, how I came to arrive, why I found it necessary, and all that; perhaps later.
Crossing took me two years. That this man crossed and returned within the space of a single year, I attributed to experience. One learns how to travel efficiently. Having said that, I know of no one presently living on the tundra who would consider the return journey. All of us had traveled out on foot as was necessary. The man's motives were clearly different from my own or from the others living here. I did not know what his motives were, only that he was steadfast in appearance. Perhaps he was mad; although he would have been subject to a subcategory of madness for which I had no bearing. There had been two individuals who had returned. With little notice, they left without sharing their deliberations although I will say nothing was shared on the tundra in any case. The culture could be likened to that found within nomad societies although occasionally there was cause, usually under extreme circumstance, to visit another camp. Needless to say, we did not inquire after these two.
Another thing: To say "we" is misleading. I speak to hardly no one other than the individuals comprising the family living in the house on the far tundra with whom I live. This family had taken me in, and even though foreigners, had lit the fire, allowing me to establish my bearings once over the mountain range. They had been expecting me and so I remained. The magnitude of effort to return, would be equal to, if not more immense, as that required in arriving. In that regard, the inertia to stay was considerable. Any act of communication across this gulf of mountain, sea and outback had to be considered carefully. I would wait for the next thaw to decide and in the meantime, dwell, as I have, in the silent and somewhat inhospitable world of the far tundra.