The Old Man and the Future
A very old man was taking a walk down a secluded beach in South Florida. It was very early in the morning, and there was nobody else out yet. So, the old man had the beach to himself.
It had been a very stormy night, but the sun was breaking bright and brilliant over the Eastern horizon on this following morning. So, the old man was happy. He was lost in his musings about the past, his past, and was humming quietly to himself as he ambled along scuffing his feet across the sand. He thought back to all the dreams of his youth, and how they hadn’t quite worked out. Still, things had been pretty good.
He looked down towards the beach where the surf was coming in and in the breaking, foamy water spied a large dark looking box. Curious, he shuffled down towards it, taking his small little old man steps. It appeared to be some type of chest. The wood was dark and worn smooth, apparently from being in the water so long. Sort of like driftwood. It had bright golden bands of some type of metal around it, and the lid of it was slightly cracked as if it was about to pop open. Excited now, the old man pulled it in further away from the water.
“This is really something” he thought
Sitting down next to the little chest, which was about the size of a loaf of bread, he pulled as hard as he could on the top. The little crack became larger and the lid popped open, making him fall back into the soft sand. Peering inside, hoping to see gold or silver he instead saw what appeared to him to be a snow globe. “Well, if that don’t beat all” he thought “It is close to Christmas though” he muttered.
He reached in and grabbed the little globe and realized suddenly that it was very heavy for its size. “Dang” he swore. He hefted it out and held it in both hands, and peered down at it. A close examination revealed that what he at first thought was a snow globe actually now looked more like quartz, a smoky white type of stone of some kind set into a beautiful piece of wood like none he had ever seen before.
As he looked into the crystal, the smoky color begin to become clearer and clearer until it was like glass. The weight of the ball now seemed so heavy he could no longer hold it, and it was becoming quite hot. He sat it down into the sand and peered closely into it. Suddenly the old man was jolted like he had been hit by lightning. Images began to appear inside the crystal. They were familiar places, but didn’t look exactly right to him.
“What the hell is this?” he asked to himself, suddenly becoming alarmed.
A voice inside his head answered, “It’s the future” “I give the gift of sight into the future.”
It was a soft feminine voice, like the type one would ascribe to coming from an Angel.
“What are you” he said
“I am the future” the voice whispered “If you wish to see; you have only to say so.”
“Well sure.” The old man answered “I’m not gonna be around much longer anyhow I want to see what happens”
“Are you sure?” The sweet voice echoed back.
“Yes, please show me.” He said
The inside of the crystal began to swim before the old man’s eyes, and images started to flow into the ball, scenes from which he could not turn away. “Definitely not a snow globe.” He thought. The images started flowing by, at first like a lazy little creek, but soon coming in a torrent like a raging river. The old man could not turn away.
He wanted to run, but he couldn’t move. He wanted to yell, and then to scream but he couldn’t even whisper. “So this is really what is going to happen?” He thought with horror and excitement mingled together all at once. His mind could barely comprehend what he was witnessing.
“Yes” said the voice, which had changed to the hoarse croak of an ancient crone….
It took all of the old man’s strength to pick up the crystal ball and place it back into the little chest. It seemed to burn him like the coldest ice and the hottest flame at the same time. As he shoved it back into the chest and slammed the little lid shut, he felt a fluttering deep in his chest.
“Oh no.” he said
He gently sunk down into the sand, as his heart slowed to a stop and quit beating. He didn’t feel any pain, just a sense of longing. To know all of these things, but not be able to tell…..
As the tide continued to come in, the water moved under the little chest like a finger and swirled under the sand until the chest started to move, and then float. It floated out of the old man’s already cold fingers and washed back out into the ocean.
It rode back out onto the waves almost ready to turn into the direction of the deep ocean currents, until a small child, scarcely over the age of five ambled down towards the surf. The chest changed direction and started floating slowly towards the child.
Perhaps someone younger could bear to see the mysteries seething inside. Perhaps not. Time would tell.