Saturday, 31 July 2010

the stone story - an exercise

(This is from a writing prompt from yesterday's workshop.  We had to use three of four pictures we pulled randomly and a theme.  My theme was "greed."  We had ten minutes to write.  Below is the picture that most inspired the story.)



Everywhere I go, I see them.  The greedy ones.  They chase sun and they chase fun and they linger with longing looks.  They laugh too much and they don’t cry enough as far as I’m concerned.

For me, it is an affront, an insult.  How much do they need?  How much can they take?  I have asked for nothing, except my freedom, which I have fought for my entire life.

It took me 620 years to see the ocean. 

It took me another 217 to ride my first bike.

I was stone.  I was left for dead.  Life sprang up around me, but no one would unleash me.  I was hungry.  Not for food.  I didn’t require food,   I required zest.  Experience.  I craved action.  What the living had was foreign to me.  I was trapped.  Did I say that already?

It was not as if it had always been that way.  It had been different.  Once.  I remember being a small girl, small, and playing, I had plaits in my hair and I ran around in circles chasing dragonflies.  But then that was over.  I left my father’s house and went to a man.  This man had eccentricities.  He was old and not beautiful.  I belonged to him.  He made me into a woman he desired.  He did what he pleased.  I lived as I lived.  There were fine things and there was a big house, but all was cold and empty.  I wanted to be out of the house, but I was not allowed.  I started into the garden, yet was never able to go outside.  I’d beg him to let me stand in the grass.  “One day,” he said, “one day, I will die and you will have more of the garden than you ever wanted.”

It was true.  One day he died.  He died.  He was very, very sick.  Right before, just before he died, a man came to me and said that my husband had one final wish to be carried out in that moment.  One wish I must oblige.  This man took me out to the garden.  I was thrilled – my husband’s dying wish was to set me free.  The man helped me onto a pedestal.  I could see for ages all around, the sky and trees and flowers; it was gorgeous.  Then he handed me a chalice, a lovely cup and bade me drink it.  I did.  And in that moment, I felt it going through my body and a hardening occurred it was as if liquid rock were pouring through my body I dropped the cup and I tried to crane my neck to see it roll away but I could not.  In that moment, I was simply turned to stone.

And there I stayed.  My life force was sent into my husband’s already dead body to revive him.  I watched him bring in another wife, and another.  This lasted for centuries, until the magic itself was lost and he also passed away.  He never suffered as we did.  We could all see each other in our misery.  I could move nothing.  I was left only my sight and my thoughts, my desires.

The freeing was so simple, it was as if it didn’t happen.  A passing butterfly sat on my shoulder like a kiss.  Then another, then another, as if the butterflies called to each other, suddenly there were hundreds.  I felt as though I could fly.

That’s what movement feels like when you’ve been still so long.

When it was done, I was lost.  I had never been anywhere but this house, it seemed.  The other wives were still trapped.  No magic had come for them.  I left my place, and followed the scent of the sea. 

Nations had been built and fallen while I watched over the garden.  People had changed, but what I saw, as I looked at them, and their gaze, was that their natures hadn’t.

A piece of every human I saw, wanted to own everything it could grasp.  Wanted to hold time and mortality between its teeth and spit it out only if and when it was good and ready.

It cut me inside like a hot blade.  I had been the victim of this same misconstrued desire.  I had been held prisoner by it for centuries.

I knew better.  I was taught how to live by butterflies, who never rest anywhere long, who know how fleeting life is, who share beauty and reflect light wherever they go.

c. e. amato

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