After twenty years the hero returned home. He followed maps that he drew himself during the voyage, he learned a dozen languages, he recognized the shape of each wave and drew the outline of the coast with a few glances, remembering every detail. A storm sank his boat off the island where he was born, which he reached as a castaway. He salvaged all the adventures he heard, experienced or imagined, yet he confused them. He claimed to have been in places neither he nor others had ever seen, and recounted the same events in the first person, in the third person and in the third person through the words of someone else. He built his own legend being the protagonist of every adventure, even when he admitted he heard the tale from others. He was not recognized, he was tall but not as tall as the hero was remembered being, he was strong but not as strong as the hero, he had aged while the hero did not age. His attempts to be recognized were considered a joke. He was confused, the island different, smaller than he remembered. Friends and family replaced by actors impersonating them badly. Where his house was, an imitation of his house, the whole island a deception, one night he decided to resume navigation. He reached the port, looking for a ship to board, when he heard the news of his own death, in a shipwreck, on the way back home. He attended his own funeral and listened to strangers’ eulogies. The ceremony left in him a different perception of life, he gave up leaving the island and imagined for himself a different name and a different life. From that day he became a poet and he told the adventures of the hero as if he had heard them told. First came the children, then women, then men, dozens at a time, attentive at every word of his, nodding when they recognized the events and the choices of the protagonists, avid for the intricate detail that the man offered, impossible to remember had he not been present, or not gifted with an exceptional imagination. He would not stop telling stories, night after night in the square or in a tavern or as a guest in private houses, every night he was able to offer a different perspective, a different outcome of the events based on ingenuity and love, a world where the heroes eventually get old and become weak, affected by the events. The poet added details to every story ever heard but he never contradicted himself nor those that came before him. Once a month, sometimes two, he was secretly invited by the king, questioned alone, so alive was the tale of the poet that the king listened at every word as if they were omens. The poet would live a short walk from the house where he lived where he was the hero, watching his wife grow old in the company of another man. He would marry a woman who never recognized the hero celebrated by history.
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