Short Story: After the Adventure
Genre: slice of life
He looked down at the rock in his hand with a puzzled frown.
She grinned. “If you figure it out, it’s yours.”
Well, it wasn’t like he had anything else to do.
Borrowing his younger-but-older great-nephew-uncle’s tool shed, he tinkered with the lump in between random visits from the people he travelled with on his now completed quest. Even with his leisurely pace, it didn’t take him long to find out what the lump was.
“Aluminium ore,” he said.
“Correct. What about this?” She handed him another unknown lump.
So began their new routine. Some took longer than others, but he took pride in the fact that he always found the answer in the end.
Somewhere between his ninth and fourteenth challenge, someone else approached him for help in identifying something that was found in an inherited attic. He treated it like just another challenge, and returned the item with his best guest on what it was.
After that, word must have spread, because more people started presenting him with items to identify. Some even travelled to pay him for his service.
Before he knew it, he was running a full-time business. But he still made sure to make time for her latest challenge.
“Bituminous limestone,” he said to the dark rock in her hand, identifying it in a glance.
“Correct.” She smiled and put it in his hand. “It’s yours. And that’s it from me. I don’t have anything left for you.”
She turned away from him to fiddle with some leaves. He slipped the limestone into one of his many pockets.
“How do you feel about your life?” she asked.
“Do you feel like you have something to look forward to?”
He thought about the work waiting for him back at his workshop.
From the side, he saw her smile.
“That’s good. We were all worried about you, you know? You lived so long for one purpose. We were scared you would stop living once you finished your quest. I’m glad you found something new.”
For the first time, the thought struck him that her challenges had been more than just a friendly game between them.
He reached into a pocket and pulled out the first thing he found.
“Your turn.” He took her hand and flipped it palm up. “If you identify it, it is yours.”