“I am going to save the world someday!” He exclaimed to himself, giving the invisible foe a determined nod as if this was a known certainty. “Maybe not soon, but someday you’ll see”. He was threading on the railway line all the way from the previous town on the other side of the mountain, following a gravel pathway staying away from the rain-soaked grass on both sides. Every step makes a crunching sound as the soles of his boat shoes land on the uneven surface of the boulder fragments.
“But for now, I will have to find a dry place to take a rest” as he stretches on both arms up in the air with a quick release of a yawn. He wears a collared striped shirt, buttoned all the way up, hand-me-down khaki shorts from his older brother and a fisherman’s hat to complete his wardrobe.
The boy readjusts his shoulder bag which contains clamped sheets of bond paper, a sketch pad, colored pencils bound with rubber band and a Tupperware of mixed cheap local chocolate candies inside and peanut butter bread.
“You’re not from around, here are you?” The mailman on a bicycle appears out of nowhere, as he then held the tip of his cap with his index finger and his thumb, pacing himself with the boy. Not a lint on his navy-blue coat uniform and he wears a white undershirt with a bowtie.
“You are a stowaway, aren’t you?”
“No sir, I am not!” retorted the boy, almost angrily. The mailman then examined the boy with a lingering look from head to toe.
“I’m on my way home after fetching some of the dried fruits my grandmother is selling and took them to the market on the other side of the mountain” the boy further explains.
“Good then, I trust you if you say so, besides, I always wander around these parts myself when I was a lot younger too. On the other thought, I heard you shouting something from back there. Forgive me, I’m not eavesdropping or anything like that, around here you can hear even the softest whisper or a stumble of a small rock from a definitive distance”.
The boy was a bit embarrassed but hides this to the stranger. His face turned red though. He then pays him a soft affirmation with a short answer “it must have echoed” and the mailman agrees.
“Um yes, I was just talking to myself out loud, it’s sort of a habit. Why? Do you think that’s weird?”
“Well, the world is filled with much weirder things” the mailman replied.
“Weirder things?” the boy repeated. The boy stops walking for a while, turning his head following the man with his now narrowing eyes.
“Please allow me to explain. I mean for one, folks nowadays don’t’ read anymore. They spend most of the time watching TV than enjoying this, right here. They do less and complain much more each day.”
“That’s what I like about my job you know? I get to enjoy riding and passing by these parts every day, and I never get tired of it. I am the link between two distant lovers through their letters, the bearer of enveloped truth, may it be good or bad, all the correspondences that people value. I would like to think of myself as the caretaker of hope in a way.”
“You do the same things every day? I don’t know kids in my neighborhood that can stand that. We’re always up to something different each day” – the boy wondered.
“Well you’re still young of course and you want to do many exciting things. Your case is different. You’ll realize what I mean when the time comes”
“But that doesn’t make my case any less exciting. I’ve been doing this for a while now, and I guess the secret is learning to enjoy the little things. And I see that now, every day I take joy in having the opportunity to fall in love over and over with every unfolding flower and appreciating their varying colors, being able to hum along with the rustling of the leaves as I cruise these parts. When it becomes lonely, the buzzing bees are my companion, they are far hardworking than me, they make me want to better myself.”
“And when the circumstance won’t allow me to visit the hillside or the lake, like when it rains hard like moments ago, I go to my books while sipping a good cup of hot chocolate, teach my sister’s kids a thing or two, helping them with their studies, or I go visit the city library two blocks away from where I live. “
“I still don’t get it, how is it weird?” asks the boy, now walking after the stranger interested. The boy does not understand what the mailman was saying. After all, he’s just a kid. The words are too big for him
“How do I put this?” The mailman then maneuvers over in front of the boy and squeezed on the brakes.
“You know how everybody feels and thinks that they need to do something very significant with their lives, say something bigger than them, to be someone perhaps, or to be known, leaving behind lasting marks on the face of the earth? Say like superheroes?
“Yes”, the boy finally understands.
“Well, I think it is just ironic and plain silly that most people are convinced that by doing nothing and just minding their own business and just complain and bicker all the time while holding the remote control watching the news will do these things for them.”
“Change and Apathy are not good bedfellows you see?”
“I get it.” says the boy.
“By the way, what do you mean by saving the world?” returned the mailman breaking a smile on his face, “You don’t mean aliens do you? You don’t strike me as a member of a secret government organization.” He follows this with an uncontrollable laugh. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mocking you or anything, it’s just that, you reminded me of a character in a book that I once read.”
“No, it’s okay, I was rehearsing. That was a line from a school play I am in. I should be able to memorize the lines by the end of the week or else I am screwed.”
“I also wrote the play by the way.”
The mailman was impressed, nods while scratching the temple of his face.
“But now that you mentioned it, I kind of like the idea of me really saving the world one day, or at least contributing something very significant.” the boy continued.
“And how are you supposed to do that? I hope you don’t mind me asking.”
The boy gave it a quick thought and gets back to the cyclist. “No I don’t mind it at all, in fact, that’s a good point. I never thought about it until now, but I’m guessing that there are a lot of things that you could do to save the world.”
“Like how, what’s in your mind, my young friend?”
“Well for one, and I may be oversimplifying things here, but if only I could find the right story to write about to show everyone. Stories that really matter, like yours Mr. Mailman, I’m sure that many people would be very interested in your story.”
“But it needs to be well played. As you said, we all play an important role.”
“I don’t know about my story, but yeah, I second what you are trying to say” – the mailman feeling a bit embarrassed himself.
Then the sun behind the thick monochrome clouds appeared, revealing the rest of the steel railway line ahead, and the mist is slowly but definitely starting to vanish. The distance appears to be long, but he realizes that it is the pathway to his destination, nonetheless, leading him to the clearing.
The kid knew that he’ll never be the same, the words that he needs to memorize now fluttered inside him. His inked fingers can’t wait to reconcile with its pen and he felt freed by the encounter he just had.
And he reckoned that he is on a mission after all.