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The third day, in which the masters discuss conflict


This is the third day we've been walking now. And it's taken me a while, but I think I understand now why you choose to live here.

What?

I think I understand why you came out here, to live in the countryside.

Go on.

You're trying to escape.

Is that right?

You got tired of living in the world. Tired of the fight, and so you came out here. You've given up.

I see.

That's it. I can see it now. Everywhere you went, there was struggle. You saw people sick and you tried to tell people about it, but nobody cared. Or people were too scared to care or to get involved. Or maybe they just convinced themselves that they didn't see it. And you tried to grab hold of them and shake them into caring, but in the end, it was too much like hard work for you.

I have to say, I don't remember ever doing that. The grabbing hold and shaking thing, I mean.

Well, I remember seeing you do it. You said people were living in a dream world, and they needed waking up. They would rather find ways of pretending that things weren't a problem than grab the problem by the throat. So you grabbed them by the throat.

Is that right?

Yes. But by the looks of things, you've become like that yourself. You don't want to face problems, you'd rather run away from them.

Run away to the countryside?

Right.

And how have you come to the conclusion that I'm trying to escape? Apart from the fact that I live here and not where I used to.

Your demeanour, I guess. That fact that you're so quiet. When you sit, you're so still.

The kingfisher we saw earlier sat still. It sat completely still on the branch, waiting. Until it hit the water.

Right, I remember you speaking about kingfishers before. Years before. The kingfisher, sitting still on the branch, the water still. And then suddenly, it's all blue and orange, and the water smashes like a pane of glass. It's like an explosion, out of nowhere.

A bit of a wordy way of putting it. But yes. Stillness, then the strike and the kill.

So you're telling me that you are still because you're waiting to strike? I'm sorry, I don't believe that.

All right. Fight me.

What?

You seem very interested in fighting. So I am assuming you want to fight. Fight me.

No. Why should I?

You said that I'm tired of the fight, that I'm running away from it. You talk about forcing people to confront things, not to run away from them. So force me. Fight me.

I don't think it's a good idea.

Why is that?

Honestly?

Yes.

Because I don't want to lose.

There is little point in fighting if you only do it to win.

You're making no sense. I don't see why anybody would fight if they're not fighting to win.

That's why I came here. That is why I seem so still. I am trying to learn how to want to lose. Look, it's nearly evening already. We should walk faster.


- Richard Francis Irvine