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April 11th, 2021
Everything was white. The frozen and furious sky blurring past the horizon, down into the land. Lucilius huddled closer to the meagre fire as it’s flames were whipped about by the snowy wind. The sphere of heat was small but it was enough. The fur of his animal skin clothing was frozen, melting and refreezing around the edges of his neck, his matted hair his own hood, his beard a solid scarf.
The white grew grey with evening shadow. The light of his small fire brightened, and he carefully, expertly fed it another piece of wood from his small scavenged pile. Lucilius was a creature well-versed in the art of fire, knowing how to make the fire eat the new log slowly, knowing how the wind and this cold would temper and spread the heat he would squeeze out of the dancing light. But his eyes grew too accustomed to the vibrant light, and with the gathering darkness he was blind to the shadow till it was too close.
Lucilius sprung up, grabbing the long flint-tipped spear stuck in the snow, instantly levelling it forward toward the figure now near the fire.
The two were locked at a distance now from the fire. Each held the other’s eyes, gauging the threat, the sense of violence ripening. But neither bore teeth. And slowly, each took a tentative, gentle step forward, toward the fire. Lucilius raised his spear again as he got closer to the fire, getting closer also to this other person, this stranger. They had no language, no names, no common music. But they could agree as they sat, and then finally they could release their locked eyes in relief and instead look to the fire, concentrating on it’s warmth.
The dim memory of all this clouded Lucilius’ eyes as he dazed off into space. But a cheer rose all around him and he snapped back to reality. The luminous screen bathed the cheering crowd in a glow. A point had just been scored in some game playing out far away from the bar where Lucilius now found himself. Friends clapped high hands and pulled down fists in their aggressive joy. Lucilius half smiled to himself, picking up a nacho piled with all kinds of glory and taste. What extravagant living, he thought. But some things, he realized simply never changed as he watched everyone turn back to the screen, all these eyes now huddled around it, relieved from that task of looking at each other.
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