Footsteps

Geoff drew on his pipe, “It’s a difficult thing” he said with a wince careful not to let the smoke trapped in his lungs escape.

“What’s that?” said Jim.

Geoff lent back in his armchair and emptied the smoke from his lungs in a deliberate manner.

“I’ve walked a while now, followed many footsteps” said Geoff as he stared down at the tobacco smouldering in the bowl of his pipe, “the footsteps always end”

“No one can walk forever” said Jim.

Geoff drew another puff on his pipe.

“Some footsteps got too big to follow” said Geoff, smoke filtering out of his mouth with each word he spoke, “Every step I took, I felt like I was climbing a mountain. And when I’d reach the top of the bastard, it was just to fall down the other side”

Jim sat still, his eyes fixated on Geoff the way a cat looks at the bird it stalks. Geoff drew again on his pipe.

“Some footsteps I’ve followed, well, they disappeared entirely. But I just kept on walking, you know. Didn’t even notice the footsteps were gone” said Geoff.

“Gone?” said Jim.

“When I realised they’d gone, I looked back, you know, just to see. But no one was there” said Geoff, “I couldn’t see ’em, and I’d forgotten entirely whose footsteps it was I’d been following…and why”

Geoff poked around the pipe’s rim with his finger pushing unlit tobacco into the bowl.

“No man is meant to walk alone” said Jim.

Tobacco set in place, Geoff lit a match, held it to the pipe’s bowl and inhaled from the mouthpiece. He waved the match back and forth in the air. The match extinguished, he exhaled and watched with intent as the smoke permeated through the air inside the small wooden cabin.

“The trees saw every step” said Geoff.

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