They were literally walking on the bones of ancient past.
The bones of actual ancients, too, if you want to be exact about it.
He contemplated telling Liz then decided she was more likely to be spooked than awed by the notion. So he let the soles of his trekking boots crunch wordless greetings with each step, and he set his mind to wonder, radar-style, about the centuries he could not see and so few even knew about, yet lay here for every person to experience. Literally. Through the mounds. These monuments to earlier.
It was an odd thing. History.
Will others one day tread upon the remnants of his, and will any ever stop to wonder about the life he’d lived, the vistas his eyes had feasted on, the memories he’d placed into the air with every exhalation?
If so, what would they think, and how did he feel about the possibility?
Not great, he realized. Especially if those future humans would by then have skills for viewing molecules of thoughts or the equivalent … His mind, unearthed, would be a bit like having archeologists come across a buried midden: plenty of data, but far from being the end one would wish presented for scrutiny.
He shuddered. More from shame than worry.
“These are man-made,” Liz noted from behind. The path was narrow and they could only walk single-file.
He nodded, unsure whether she had misinterpreted his reaction or — as she sometimes could be — was eerily on point.
“I wonder if they had intended for anyone to walk on these,” Liz added.
He stopped. There was something in her voice. A fullness.
He turned to her. Her cheeks were wet. Her eyes were red. How long has she been crying?
Her lips turned up at what she must have seen in his expression. “I’m fine, Shawn,” she breathed. “It is just that there’s a sense of spirit pushing like a memory-foam against my feet …”
His own eyes filled and he shook his head, surprised at the emotion.
“I do,” he nodded, reached for her hand.
The fields below them stretched wide and green to the horizon. The air sighed with the scents of grass and rain and years and sun.
“This place,” he braved, “it makes me want to be a better man.”