The second in a creative writing series I did. Part one was On Beauty.
The path led down through scrub as it wound around the mountain and dropped towards the valley floor. The brush gave way to trees and long grass, but nothing as thick as on the way up. The way was shaded heavily from the peak behind him, and while some days this place would likely see brilliant sunlight, that was not today.
He was quite chilled by the time he hit the floor of the valley and the space widened around him. Trees gave way to grassy fields and rough rocks. He stuck to the trail, which itself grew into nearly a small road. More traffic had come here once, just little had gone back up the trail to the sky.
A wide space broke open to his right, and in the middle stood an old, ragged stone wall. High and wide, it was once part of a powerful building. Now it was just the last piece to hang on before all of its stones once against returned to the earth. He turned from the path and walked to it, tall and gray in the sunlight. It was far enough from the base of the mountain that the sun was starting to hit the world around him again.
He stumbled, nearly tripping over a squat stone. Chipped and worn, it was man-made and not part of the building ahead. A tombstone. He stepped more carefully so as not to trip again, and more soft stones seemed to nod at him from the long grass. Their faces no longer held names or years or kind words. Just a familiar shape to tell someone what lay in the soil beneath.
Reaching the wall, he ran his fingers on its face. Smooth from who knows how many years of weather and wind and time, yet carved with ornate bricks and features that still stood clear. This was a church, once upon a great while ago.
He pushed against the wall and it did not move. The earth would not get these rocks soon, he thought, but the earth was patient. The sun felt good against his face and he needed a rest. Sitting down in the rippling grass, he leaned his back against the big wall and kicked out his legs. The tombstones did not protest and gave him room.
He felt a calmness there, sitting with the forgotten dead, sharing their simple breeze. He could feel through time all the mourning and grief that once surrounded each headstone as they were first put into place. He could hear through the wall’s thick rock the songs and prayers that shook the church from the inside, long before it fell. The dead were probably grateful for the silence.
The warmth of the church wall felt good on his back, the stone giving back the sunlight it had been soaking up all day. The breeze kicked up in a small gust, and in the calmness and comfort of the moment, he fell asleep.