Story: Stone

[I have decided to start posting short fiction, poems, and essays here more regularly. I hope you enjoy.]

The statue that watched over the square was a quiet woman. It wasn’t in her nature to bother a soul, not for a crumb, not for anything. Her job was simple, clear, and plain: to watch and to listen. When snow was piled all the way up to her waist, she watched and listened. When the burning rain or thick soot from the rubber mill rained down, she watched and listened. Even when a group for teenagers painted symbols on her in black and green, she did not waver for a second. She took in every word that they said She knew that the tallest one was more afraid of being caught than the others, though he’d never show it, and that the boy with the bright orange shoes didn’t consider the others his friends; he just didn’t want to go home that night.

She had been a woman once. She hadn’t always been in the square. All of that was beyond her memory now. It was only the vaguest of shadows, like a half remembered dream, and she wasn’t entirely sure that it had all been real. The possibility that it wasn’t would have chilled her to the bone, if she remembered how to feel a chill.

In her half remembered dream, there were children singing and running in a field near a barn. They ran almost endlessly, as though stopping would bring about the world’s destruction. The ran until one of them fell, a small girl with her hair in braids, and they all looked on in terror as her frame disappeared beneath the tall grass. Then they were running again. She didn’t know what it meant, but it frightened her.

There were also less frightening dreams: dreams of orange blossoms and decorative cakes and brand new tires for the Model T. There were dreams of a swollen belly and a beautiful boy in a captain’s uniform racing toward her, along with the ever present phantom pains that haunted her if she ever let her mind drift to these dreams: an empty bassinet, the inside of a well, and a note that said he would be staying with the girl from the bakery.

It was easier to be stone, an always present, listening, and observing stone.

Yet, her heart would twinge for the jilted bride who sprang from the church like a doe from a hunter, tears streaming from her eyes as she flung herself at the statue’s feet, but despite the twinge she knew the bride was right when she cried, “Why can’t I be like you?!”

The statue wanted to reach down and wipe away the tears that now streamed down the poor girl’s face and straighten the veil that now fell askew. She knew she could offer her her place, but she stood still a little longer, not ready to give it up just yet.