Hey Lafiametta, can you continue that sasil story with Hasil showing Sally Ann around his home and him being nervous about what she thinks? Thanks!!
Sally-Ann hadn’t really known what to expect. She’d been camping a couple of times, out in the woods as part of a school trip, but that had involved tents and sleeping bags and traipsing off into the trees with a roll of toilet paper. And it was all very temporary, just a few days outside, with the bugs and the dirt, the nighttime silence so loud she could barely sleep.
But up on this mountain, where he lived – through summers and winters and the pouring rain and the blanketing snow – everything seemed strange and foreign, like it was from another world.
Hasil’s cabin was just like he had described it, set into the trees, with the two-sided porch and the open windows, although, if she were being honest with herself, she was pretty shocked at how small it was. It seemed impossible that someone could live there, with no space to move around, no real place to put anything.
It was only once she stepped inside that she understood. There was a mattress laid across a cot on one side of the room, filling most of it, and two chairs siting against the other wall. There were a few things here and there – a pile of clothes, another pair of boots, a few carved animals in various states of completion – but most of all she was struck by how little there was. She thought back to her own room, all her books, her childhood stuffed animals, her closet full of clothes, the band posters lining her walls.
He was watching her, she could tell, trying to gauge her reaction to seeing his home, and for once he seemed quieter, less sure of himself.
“So, uh… this is where I live,” he said, throwing his hands out in the air for emphasis. “It’s not that big, I know, but…”
“It’s great,” she said, walking towards the mattress and taking a seat. There was a quilt laid across the top, its pattern a beautiful design of overlapping diamonds, even as the colors in the fabric had started to gently fade. She wondered if he had pulled it out especially for her.
“Well, you got yer bed right there,” he said, pointing towards where she was sitting. “For sleepin’ an’… uh, for…uh…” He trailed off, a sheepish grin flashing across his face. “An’, uh, yer chairs, for when ya’s got comp’ny. Ya can sit outside, too, watch th’ afternoon go by… An’…” He stopped, the smile fading. As if looking for something else to mention, he turned around, but quickly swiveled back to face her. “Well, that’s it… that’s everythin’…”
He gave her a little tight-lipped smile, but it didn’t reach all the way to his eyes.
But there was something else she had seen, something he hadn’t mentioned. In the corner, by the door, was a weathered wooden box, a little smaller than a shoe box, the sides of it stained a deep chestnut brown.
“What’s that?” she asked, nodding towards it.
“Oh, uh… jus’ some things I keep.” He didn’t elaborate, and she didn’t want to press him, not if he didn’t seem comfortable talking about it. But then he looked at her, tilting his head like he was thinking something over. “D’ya wan’ ta see it?” he asked, a cautious lilt in his voice.
“’Course,” she said. She would look at anything he was willing to share with her, and the box itself had piqued her curiosity.
“Okay,” he said, and walked over to pick it up. He sat down next to her, his weight on the mattress pulling her down against him a little. The box was now sitting in his lap, and he carefully moved to pull the lid off.
There wasn’t much in it, just a few odds and ends, but they seemed to be arranged deliberately, intentionally, as if he often found occasion to want to look at them.
The first thing she noticed – perhaps not surprisingly – was a carved wooden bird, but unlike the one he had given her before, this one had its wings outstretched, the tips of the feathers splayed like it was coasting on the wind. It was somewhat crudely made, though, rough scratches written across its surface, as if made by less than skilled hands.
“That was my firs’ one,” he said. “My grandfa’ helped me.”
She smiled, thinking of Hasil as a young boy, his child’s hands gripping onto the wooden figure.
Next to the bird, there was a pocket watch, bright silver and still on its chain. She guessed that the two hands had probably not moved for a long time.
“That was his, too,” Hasil added. “Not for tellin’ time, a’ course. We don’t really worry ‘bout that none. But he liked to carry it ‘round in his pocket, an’ som’times he let me polish it.”
The next item surprised her; it was a photograph, a Polaroid, the edges of it yelllowing slightly with age. What was even stranger was what it showed: a man and a woman, dressed more or less normally, although the man’s facial hair and the woman’s dress made it look like they were from the ‘70s or ‘80s. But the way they were placed in the photo, with him sitting stiff and upright in a chair and her standing behind him so formally with her hands on his shoulder, it looked like something out of another time, another century.
“My folks,” he said. “On their weddin’ day.”
The last thing was a coin, so dark she could barely see it, most of it corroded with dirt and the pale green of oxidized metal.
“Can I…?” she asked, wanting to look at it closer.
He nodded, and as she picked it up, she realized it was heavier than it had seemed. In the light, tilted just the right way, she could see the writing on it, and the design of an eagle on the back. ONE DOL., it read, and on the front was a year: 1867.
“That’s somethin’ I foun’. Well… my sister foun’ it. We was jus’ chilluns, jus’ li'l ones diggin’ in the groun’ for fun.”
“You have a sister?” she said, passing the coin back to him.
“I had a sister.” He looked down at the object in his hand, absently rubbing the edge of it with his thumb. “I’s jus’ ‘leven winters. She was fo’rteen. Got a real bad fever, an’ they couldn’t do nothin’ for her.” He was quiet for a moment, and everything became so still, Sally-Ann could only hear the soft rhythm of her own breathing. Then he gently placed the coin back in the bottom of the wooden box and closed the lid on top.
“Sally-Ann, I know… I know it don’t seem like I’s got a lotta things… not like some people might…”
“Som’times… I jus’ don’t know what I can offer ya…”
“Hasil, that isn’t important.” He looked at her, and she could see the shadow of disbelief in his eyes. “It isn’t…” she repeated. She had to make him understand, to get him to see what she now knew: this cabin, that box, it was more than enough. It was a life, it was a whole world. “Up here, you got everythin’.”
She nodded. “Everythin’ that matters.”
He paused, and then he smiled at her so sweetly, she could feel her heart begin to break into a thousand brilliant pieces.