The Choice

- jan-u-wine

It wasn’t a choice that he came to; no, not really.  It was more as if it came, of a sudden, to him.
And he realized, upon reflection, between the taking of one breath and the letting go of another, that his life might very well be defined by the manner and moments of his choices, by the seeming odd and random reasoning, honed and distilled, narrowed to silver-fine simplicity……
Balanced to a nicety. 
His thoughts were scattering now, running reckless and disordered, like late leaves from an autumn-winded tree.  The fire hissed in the grate, orange dragon-tongues twisting about the last of the apple-wood.  Home.  It smelled like Home……
Oh, and he could see home:  the happy, green round of the Hill,  sun fierce and yellow upon the fields, the river whispering of winter past as it laughed about grey-faced rocks…..
somewhere, beyond the rounded window (though in truth, here, in this place, his window was not round), a robin called, voice rising and lowering,  
bidding a sweet farewell to someone he could not see…..
He smiled to himself,
glad that the robin’s voice should be the last one he should hear.
And he looked to the book which lay open between his two hands,
shut it fast,
lay the pen to its rest.
He did not close his eyes, then; no, he did not close them.  For he wondered, in the curious way that he would ever have, if, between this life and the next, if there might be a bridge of some sort, some moment in which, if his eyes remained unclosed, he might actually see his old self and his new pass each other upon the Road.
Time has a way about such things, a way that he would understand once he stood outside of it.  But not yet.  Not while his eyes were still open to the world, not while breath rose and fell within the column of his breast, not while his fingers traced (fondly, so fondly) the faded gilt of the journal…..
And time gently wove itself before his eyes, twined itself about faltering breaths, loosed fingers from their scholarly spell……. 
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It was odd, very odd, but he’d wanted Sam to find him, wanted him to see.    And here Sam was, light spilling in joyful prisms across the for-once ordered desk, touching its warmth to a linen-clad arm, pulling russet from quiet’d midnight curls.
But nowhere was the light so bright (though, truth be told, it was not so much bright as it were……..glowing, as if the moon had sunk Herself beneath a silver-crested Sea….), as that which shone from the still’d hand, (more beautiful for its lack) at rest upon the desk.  And Sam, as he had all those many years and leagues gone by, held it for the space of a heartbeat, a remembering kiss left within the cup of the palm, feeling the coolness against his lips, the peaceful finality.     
He saw, then, that his Master’s eyes were yet open, as if there were some small bit of life that he might gather thus, some question which still should find an answer (or, better, (and Sam smiled to himself, for he knew his Master well), some question that might yet be posed) before he should know rest.
Sam reckoned that, in the ending, he’d uncovered all three:  question, answer, rest. 
At last, his Master’s Quest was done.