I feel the lump in my throat wanting to burst from its prison. My feet are clay embedded in the fresh soil. My face bursts with sweat, the salty water streaming down my cheeks.
"Not seen 'ya around here before."
I feel the cold metal release from my flesh. My frame slumps as I come to rest fully against the wall, my back becoming my support. The darkness does not hide my fear as my eyes pierce the night to find my captor. I feel the warmth of the wall, the captured light now radiating back into the clear night.
"I am sorry, sir. I meant no harm." The rod against my neck now comes to rest against the ground; a fork I now see; a farmer's tool.
"Where are 'ya from?" His voice I hear is low, deep and firm; a confident tone.
"I am from the north end of the Chrystum. My name is Clancy." The rock held within my throat begins to lessen and I feel the strength returning to my limbs. He steps back and examines me as I lean against his wall.
"What are you doin' round these parts?"
"I am simply on an adventure, sir."
"Adventure? Ain't no adventure round here," he replies." His hand shifts to his head as he adjusts his brimmed hat, pulling it backward slightly. The gathering darkness reveals little of his features. I can tell though, he is someone of experience. "I'm fixin' to eat supper. You are welcome," he says, "if'n you haven't eaten."
"I would be much obliged, sir. Thank you."
My legs shake briefly as I feel a tremendous sense of relief. I smile, though in the darkness I don't know if my benefactor notices. Within moments I am standing before the entrance to his humble home. The door faces east, toward the rising sun, simple, no opening to view in or out; no embellishments of any sort. He stomps his feet on the planks of the porch to release the mud caked to his boots. I do the same. It is as a signal as I hear the metal latch on the inside drop and the door swings open easily, not even a squeak from the hinges burrowed into the weathered frame.
The light within embraces us as I am am instantly touched with warmth. Before me stands his bride, a gentle smile wide across her comely face. Without a word, I feel welcomed.