In the darkness the winter pursues you, waiting for you to give in to the sleep weighing on your tired eyes. It is hard to admit that a seasoned traveler like you could fall victim to these ancient woods. It is even harder to realize that there is no one that would miss you. You are not the first, nor the last lonely hiker to lose his way and wander, inadvertently to this kerosene-lamp-lit shelter, emerging from the white veil out of the knotted slope. In the distance the moon-lit snow illuminated the perilous way, and the smell of burning wood beckoned you until you saw the first flickering flames cast long shadows through the trees, and you knew you were saved. Leaning against the stove you light your last cigarette and listen to the cracking fire waiting for the morning that will guide you home. For the moment you let your eyes wander over the blackened wood and tired old chimney overcome with time. You hear the wind whistle just beyond the sloping roof. The walls creaked in reply, straining to divulge their ancient secrets. You shudder. “If walls could talk, eh” you say lightly to the girl who gives you a cup of warm tea. She laughs, wiping her hands on her apron, “Maybe you should listen more closely,” she replies and shuffles off to the steamy kitchen. You didn’t suspect for an instant that she could possibly be right – that there may be truth in the seemingly absurd. After all, how could such things be true? But everything is so much more than what it seems. When even you are a stranger to your own greatness, how can you expect to see the hidden truth beyond you? I had you marked from the moment I saw you wandering fearfully through the forest. I knew instantly that you were the one soul that would hear my story, and patiently I waited until sleep carried you off to where the dead can speak to the living. I crouched by your pillow, invisible to the world, until your breath became heavy. “Hello,” I said, “My name is H***. It’s nice to finally meet you.” My voice skipped the surface of your dreams like flat stones on water. You smiled. Outside the snow began to fall.