The Lost Destiny of the Shepherd

From the midst of his herd, who nibble and starve on a barren ridge. The desert shepherd stands and watches. He ignores the sweat dampening his brown and blurring his sight. He ignores the heat that burns his skin dark brown, which then blisters and scabs into hardened callouses. Every day he stands there looking at the same spot. The spot where, years ago, this lowly shepherd watched a shooting star cut a red path across the sky.

Somehow he knows, on it died another life. His freedom passing by like a caravan lost in the dark.

In his dreams his mother dances in and out of focus, in and out of light and shadow, a beloved ghost of his infancy.

"You, my boy," She whispers, at times bouncing him on her knee, at others rocking him to sleep, always, always fading into memory's slow-encroaching fog: "Were born for something great!"

She passes, so do the years, so does this comet, each borne into the past and far from his reach. He closes his eyes. Imagines the men who died trying to find him. Imagines a destiny lost. He imagines the burning star is no star but a ship, under attack by those that would thwart its mission. To reach him, the vaunted savior.

He imagines what they might tell him. That he is a Chosen One. That he must save the galaxy, the universe.

"Only you," He imagines them desperately gasping, barely escaping death to bring his deliverance, "Only you can save us!"

"This way," He dreams them saying, as they gesture towards the infinite and the stars. "Come with us and we will show you wonders. Come with us, and bring our troubles to an accord."

He imagines, and years pass by. The embers of imagining fade; they weaken; they die.

He ages, begins his own family. There is no more time for dreams. The real is what is. This is the only world he will know. He will die, and like his mother before him and her father and a long line of Man stretching beyond his ancestors' ken, be buried and forgotten in the sand. The herds of humanity will march over his grave in time, ignorant to the fact that he ever lived, that he ever dreamed of more.

At night, he bounces his own child on his knee and whispers, "You, my son, you..."