We were all gathered around, five generations present when you counted the elderly gentleman who had asked us all here.
"This is what should have happened." He began. "And don't take offense that if this had happened you wouldn't be here. You're all the product of my cowardice but you're not the punishment for it, you're the only thing that makes it bearable. The potential I've wasted is still alive in all of you, so please, don't fuck it up."
And here began the tale. The long twisted story of every orgy, every fight every suicide. He told of dying over and over, starving, fevers, he told of sweating, fucking, kicking. He talked of roads, roads that led everywhere and never took you to the same place twice. We all listened attentively to his tale of madness and gluttony and sweetness and indulgence.
When it was over the old man stood, and walked out of the house as we all stared in silence. He went to his room where he spent a few months reading and slowly losing his senses. When he died he didn't seem to even recall who he was.
It was another few months before any of us spoke of his story. Odd to discover none of us heard exactly the same tale. I seemed to have gotten the craziest version of it. My brother caught more about meditation and prayer. Maybe that was in there, though I hadn't heard it, but I'm quite sure my niece is wrong in thinking that the old man shared recipes with us, though I must admit the bread she started making was delicious, unlike anything I'd ever tasted.
Was it a peculiar magic the old man possessed? Or were we, his many descendants, just really shitty listeners?