He visited every day, that young fella. He would sit on the birch stump by the fence and watch in silence how the recessive man brushed and carved the wood. The first time he took to word was to ask “when can I learn?” Toward the end of the day the old man, not even looking at him—he was not given to provide signs of acknowledgement—, replied in that peculiar way of his: “if you don’t think you are already, never”. Then, after putting a match to a rushlight, he went into his mud hut to complete a ritual that was now a thing of two.

The boy chewed on that aplenty before speaking up again, kicking dirt around the workshop in a day when the heat would not let the codger work, forcing him to rest and drink lemonade while watching an utterly vacant, utterly blue sky. “Can I build something?” the young man asked. The old man drew a long sip of sweet water, never unhooking his sight from the heights. “If you have not already it is because you have nothing to build yet”, he said before heading in for dinner.

The last time he saw him, he saw him dead. He had ventured inside the simple man’s den after having waited for hours at the oddly empty workshop. And there he was, among exquisite pieces in ebony and mahogany, small wonders made of cedar and walnut. Right then the old man was to him supreme beauty, like that, in absolute repose, as stiff as the timber he used to work with such busyness.

Right then, too, he learned of a thing that needed building.