e know you’re always late, but we’ve been waiting here for two days doing nothing.
The sun was setting and there was no electricity in the cabin. There were sleeping bags, several blankets, opened cans of food, power bar wrappers, coffee cups, books, a propane stove, and lit candles on a small table in the center of the room, which was the only room in the cabin. They were sitting on hard, dusty planks that reflected the years that the cabin had been abandoned. The windows were clouded over with dust, spider webs and the substance of age that did not lend itself to identification. A short walk through wooded silence behind the cabin was as solitary an experience as reaching the end of one of the stories they knew they were about to hear. So many things had already ceased to matter.
Over the years, curiosity about these stories had disappeared, and no one knew what had brought them continuously to this one spot, which never seemed to have been touched since the last time they were there. They had sensed his approach an hour before. The light from the candles on the table and were taking on more prominence in the room as the sun set. It seemed just the right moment when he entered.
Nothing? The room is here. You are here. You have put yourselves in sleeping bags and propped yourselves against the wall. You have fed the meager vestiges of your appetites, lit the candles and engaged in the anticipation that brings you here every year. And for what?
You’ve never told us for what, said the same voice that had admonished him when he entered. This voice belonged to a woman who had tried unsuccessfully to become an astronaut.
Where’s the ear? said another voice. This voice was more matter of fact. It came from a lawyer who had abandoned his practice after hearing only two of the stories. He always sat farthest away from the voice that, to him, came as much out of the shadows as the light.
The storyteller, who had taken his seat on the floor under the front window, reached into a shoulder bag and brought out a crystal ear about a foot tall and set it upright on the table among the candles. The flames reflected in the swirls of the ear and generated a series of spirals that pointed into a mystery which the light of the candle could not follow. During these yearly stories, the candles always burnt out before the story was finished, and only then would the listeners remember that the story had been coming from the inside the ear and that they had always come to hear what it was saying. The ear was the symbol of their mystification.