Regarding The Man Who Lived By Post
Once upon a time in a faraway land there lived an old man high in the mountains. It is unclear as to how long he had been living there or how he came to have so many far-flung friends, but being ancient, he no longer ventured away from home. Instead he spent his days scribbling poetry and short fiction for any number of his distant pals.
He had little company save his two birds. These would fly in periodically, messengers carrying news in the form of rolled parchment on their backs. They were also the bearers of his many beautiful works to the outside world — as you can imagine, these were not small birds, though they were not exactly birds of prey either. Were the old man anything like Goldilocks, he’d have tried a few others and found these middling creatures last. These birds were just right for their jobs.
The birds were given names: Monet and Flaubert. They were adopted by the old man in adolescence and loved him as a father.
Now, Monet was a lithe, all-purpose bird. Her nature was to flutter between many towns and in her travels she made numerous friends. The old man trusted her to locate even the most remote, most difficult-to-find people. She was flexible, reliable, and endlessly resourceful. Her being pulsed with life and warmth not unlike the climates of her origins.
Flaubert on the other hand was afraid of many things and useful only in that he was a cold-weather bird. The old man only ever sent him to one faraway location: a freezing windblown outpost town where lived an old woman named Martha. The old man took special care to send only his best writings to dear Martha who, also being obscenely old, was unable to afford the physical costs of travel. Furthermore, the joints of her hands were no good — unable to hold a pen, all Martha could do was to read the scrolls as they came and to give Flaubert a hearty meal before his long flight home.
This was the case for years until one day when the old man fell very sick. Worried that his life was near its end, he extracted a final stanza for his true love. Flaubert had not yet returned from an earlier excursion and time was of the essence, so it fell upon Monet to carry the man’s last act of sweetness. As the greybeard watched his devoted creature fade into the distance, he passed on into the next life.
Monet flew swift and true! She thought of how much the old man had done for her and how much it would mean for Martha to have this final gesture. She was determined to carry his love.
However she quickly found that she was ill-suited for the weather along this flight path. Blizzards sprung up without notice and the winds were treacherous. At some point her wings froze and it became impossible for her to proceed. Shivering in the abandoned nest of some other bird, she contemplated giving up.
As fortune would have it, with mellowing skies she spotted none other than slow-flying Flaubert passing overhead, his shadow long beneath him. She gave a wail, and, knowing her cry, Flaubert descended hurriedly toward his friend.
She relayed passing events and together in this foreign nest they mourned. When the tears were done, they resolved to reach Martha. With his warmth Flaubert defrosted Monet’s frozen wings and soon they were on their way.
They leaned on one another during this journey: Flaubert’s heat proved vital for Monet’s cold-weather survival. He also taught her to make pine nests during snowstorms — these offered as much home as travelers could hope for. For her part, Monet taught her timid companion to maneuver more deftly, to fly upside down, and to dare the swifter thermals. (He was never the most efficient traveler.) She taught him to face his many un-birdlike fears, and in the same way he warmed her wings she set ablaze his weathered heart.
It was in the joy of this newfound companionship that they reached the old woman. The trip was taxing and as soon as the two made it past Martha’s window they piled on the floor in exhaustion. Realizing just what had transpired, kind Martha unharnessed and fed these spent bearers of love. With sweet tears she sang to them, ringing her soft human voice. Then, after giving them good rest, she set them free to adventure in the wild.
Unburdened and feeling stronger than ever, that’s what they did. From that day forth they adventured in the way only birds can: high above the troubles of the ground, over fields of flowers and shifting sands, crossing every ocean and every horizon. In this way they soared, together, happily ever after.