The Birdwatcher sat alone, eating the same porridge he ate every day, listening to the same record he always listened to. Days were mostly the same for him, ever since he lost his sight. He tended to his garden and sat by the edge of his pond, listening to the birds and the waves.
He never complained, not that anyone was around to listen anyway. He knew the purpose to his life and nothing would keep him from it; he didn't need anyone's pity and he wouldn't take any, even if his eyes had failed him and the rest of his body wasn't far behind.
Each day at noon, he would sit near the pond and feed the birds, enjoying their presence even if he could no longer see them. He kept bread in his binoculars case, a reminder of who he once was. While he longed to see them again, he had a lifetime of memories to tide him over. They were a comfort to him, but he had to live, so once every week or two he would find the largest swan he could and take it away from the flock before thanking it for its sacrifice and killing it.
He stripped the meat from the bones and put most of it in the freezer for later; the rich vegetables from his garden supplied most of the nutrients for his diet, so he only needed a bit of extra protein and fat from the swans.
However, he could've gotten meat from any number of birds -- it was the bones he really needed. He hated to kill his favorite bird, but he knew that only their bones could do what he needed, so he set them aside to dry.
He had done this for years with nary an interruption, until a knock came on his door. It took him a moment to remember what that sound was, it had been so long. But when he opened it, a boy was standing there, soaked to the bone, seeking shelter from a thunderstorm. The man could hear the cold on his voice and invited the boy inside immediately.
Once he got the boy a change of clothes from his son's old trunks, he finally asked the boy's name. "David," the boy spoke from between chattering teeth as he spooned porridge into his mouth and wrapped the blanket tighter around himself. "And yours, sir?"
"Most refer to me as the birdwatcher, or they did when I socialized with people, but you can call me Isaac."
They idly chatted as the old man worked the swan bones into a fine powder with his old stone mortar and pestle. The boy looked inquisitively at him, but kept his questions to himself, figuring that the man had already helped him out enough.
Finally, the boy finished eating and said with wonder, "I've never tasted anything like that; what is your secret, if I may ask?"
The man chuckled and began, "Well, son, that's a long story. Many years ago, I was visited by a boy not much older than you, shortly after my eyes gave out. He stayed only a few days, but I can say without a doubt that he is the most important man I've ever known, and I know that you are here to finish what he started, even if you don't know it yet.
"His name was David as well, and he had come here under similar circumstances. By the time he left, I knew him to be a wise man, the likes of which I had never met before or after; in fact, he was the last person I ever spoke to, some twenty-five-odd years ago. He revealed to me the secret of regaining my sight and despite all the time that has passed, I still believe him to this day."
The boy rolled his eyes, but he suppressed the doubt in his voice when he inquired, "What was this secret he bestowed upon you, and why do you believe I will finish his work? And what does all this have to do with porridge, anyhow?"
"The reason I know that you will finish what he started is simple: he told me that when my trials were to come to an end, you would come to my doorstep. A boy named David, seeking shelter from the storm.
"As for the porridge, the reason is in my hands. I'm grinding down swan bones to a fine flour of sorts now; I use it to thicken the mixture and, at least to me, it is the greatest taste on earth."
While an odd choice of ingredient, the boy couldn't help but agree, and in fact he had helped himself to another bowl while the birdwatcher was explaining all of this.
"But I never would've thought of this if it weren't for David -- the first one, that is. He explained to me, much to my confusion, that the way to regain my sight was through the bones of the things I loved most. It took me some time to make it palatable, but when I came to this, I never ate anything else."
The conversation largely died down after that, with neither of them sure of how to continue it. Once the storm had completely passed, the birdwatcher invited the boy out to sit by the pond and feed the birds with him, which he couldn't resist after the hospitality the old man had shown him.
David was pensive; the story the birdwatcher had told him was interesting, but he couldn't imagine that he was anyone of import, being a simple blacksmith's son. However, he kept this to himself; no point in attacking the man's belief, especially after such a great meal.
The old man was lost in thought, but finally jumped back to reality. He spoke, slowly at first, his voice quivering, "Maybe I misinterpreted this, after all this time. I had always thought that I would regain my sight, but he never said that. Not those words, at least."
After his earlier conviction, this admission shocked the boy, and he spoke rashly without considering that he was speaking to his elder, "How could you possibly misinterpret this, and only realize it after 25 years?! What did this seer say to you?"
"I will never forget what he said to me. As he walked out my door for the last time, he turned to me and told me, 'Take swan to know swan.'"