All of my earliest memories are of life on the mountain. I remember quite vividly the garden in the meadow, the wild goats, the sea, my mother.
My mother came up to the mountain from the forest a long time ago. I never really asked her why she came, and she never talked about it. We lived simply. All of our needs were met with cultivation in the garden and foraging the wild around us.
Our isolation was a great blessing and perhaps a great difficulty. I spent my time observing and examining the living world around me. The flows and patterns of nature defined my experience. I appreciated the living world with all my heart and longed for community with all my soul. Apart from my mother, my strongest relationships were forged with my allies, the mountain goats.
I was not so different from the mountain goats. I was a solitary figure ambling across the mountainside. I didn't seek anything in particular and I was always happy to find some bit of fun or something tasty to eat. From time to time, I would simply follow a mountain goat, allowing myself to be led in any direction. This often resulted in my approaching the boundaries of our safe haven.
We were pretty well hidden on the mountainside, in our little meadow among the rocks. I was free to wander as I pleased. I learned the boundaries of the safe haven from my mother before my earliest memories. I often wondered what lay beyond the safe haven and my curiosity was always quenched by some new discovery of nature within my small world. As the outside world expanded outward into the unfamiliar unknown, my world expanded inward equally into a familiar unknown.
My mother often told me stories of the forest and I longed to know it. We often sat, the two of us, on large stones at the cliff's edge, overlooking the sea and listening to the waves crashing below. I knew that her forest was across the sea on the far land, visible in the distance. As we sat together observing the sea, I would sometimes notice soft tears streaming silently down her face.
Something had drawn my mother to live on the mountain, and raise me in solitude. She was loving and very kind, a stable rock, unmoving in the wind. She disappeared one night when I was a boy and I experienced a most intense fear, crying myself to sleep. When I spoke with her in the morning, she deflected my questions and managed to set my mind at ease. When I had the same experience as a teenager, I was not so easily deterred. She would still not tell me anything specific. I learned that she had a lover. I felt intense conflicting emotions and slowly began to consider my isolation more and more.
One summer, as I neared adulthood, in the year after the drought, my mother seemed to lose her baseline. The parts of the garden she tended became overgrown and I often found her out on the stone at the cliffside, crying. She talked frequently about the forest and I could tell she longed to leave the mountain. Something happened and she was just a shell of the woman I had always known. Her turmoil threw my own life into turmoil as well. I found myself following the mountain goats to the ridge at the boundary of the safe haven regularly and I often considered pursuing them over the top.
One day, I did just that. Over the top of the ridge, it was not long before I ran into trouble. I don't really remember what happened on that day. I seem to have purged the memories from my mind. I remember crossing the ridge and walking a short distance through some thick trees before finding myself bursting out of the thicket, right in the middle of a road. I turned to find a tall man staring right into my eyes. I fell backward, startled, and hit my head on a rock at the edge of the road. I have no memory of any other events from that time. My earliest memory since that day is waking from a deep sleep on the floor of the Paper Cabin. I do not know the fate of my mother.