Okay, so here’s the story. A man is travelling. He’s a merchant. Moves here. Sells there. Moves somewhere else. Has a family that he’s supporting. Wife and kids. Usual stuff. Takes on an arduous life for them. Migrating and not seeing them and getting money only to send it back, which lets him send more money later. Real unconditional shit. Let them have a free and happy and stuck life, you know.
He does it for a while. A tired while. Wants to do it for a while longer too. That way wife doesn’t have to be exhausted and get dirt in her eyes and she won’t have a scratchy-scratch voice from fighting customers. She’s home. So are the children. He thinks about how they could be playing now. Endlessly, he’d say. Or something like that, followed by a cough and a haggle for the price of dried beef.
Time goes on and so does he, one village to the next, one market to another. They’re the same but different, and he’s the same but different in them too. But he starts noticing that as he moves against the sun’s morning yawn, people are getting sick. Disgustingly sick. Bumps come first. Then skin rots. Muscles turn to goo. Eyes to soup. Teeth to useless rubber. His teeth remain hard. Dried beef goes down easily, no matter the price.
Still, the disease is spreading. He needs to warn his family. He closes his shop, rushes home, faces day and night and day and night without sleep, finds his wife – she is smiling and beautiful and happy with want and need filled and children at her knees, laughing, playing children, the children he remembers and imagines from the last time he saw them – he hugs them and kisses them and warns of disease in places he’s seen. They must leave. The disease turns muscles into goo, he tells his wife. The youngest child giggles. Goo, he repeats just as a boil wiggles out from his cheek to feel the warmth of the sun.
The family sleeps endlessly, he might later say, followed by a cough.