12 somber analogues
The old man kept creeping up the grassy hill with two loads of grain
in baskets. As his black shirt flapped loosely in the wind, faintly holding
on to dignity, the poor elderly worker clambered onto the zenith of the
knoll. He took a moment to wipe his brow with a small white handkerchief
and looked up at the pink banana-colored sky that kept changing in and out
of a pale shadow. His grey hair sailed against the breeze as his minute
black eyes blinked slowly and protruded from his skull like two bits of
volcanic glass lodged inside a pair of sockets. The darkness of the
universe was echoed within him and so was reflected the hopelessness and
futility of all of man's desires for glorious paradise.
In a moment of pathetic epiphany, the withered soul realized that he
did not have enough time to waste on such trivial matters, since he had a
granary to fill with the precious grain of constant and laborious soil
cultivation. He raised his crossbar carrying two baskets of freshly reaped
grain and started down the rest of the hill. The journey across the second
part of the ceremonial wave of earth went much more fluidly than did the
first, and the struggling old man descended easily into a swampy area. He
did not notice how quickly he had reached the bottom of the verdant mound
and crossed over into slushy territory. It seemed like he made the same
trip every time he went to replenish his stock of grain, but this time he
doubted that he had taken the correct path. Just then the old man stepped
on a root, an obstacle so small, so insignificant, and yet so easily
capable of canceling the abject protagonist's intended path of travel. He
stumbled forward, spilling his burdensome goods into the bog.
Rancid, vile, impossible smog hung over the poisoned pond like a
plague. The stench brewed out of the naturally decaying scum buried deep
within the swamp drenched the remains of a misshapen clump of detritus
floating in the least vegetated portion of the mud puddle. It is
unfathomable how long the diseased water had been collected there in the
midst of a barren, murky wood. Yet it seemed there was no hope for this
system overcast with atrophy, two seedlings began to slowly push past the
thick layer of film that had built up from stagnation.
The sludge on the edge of the basin crept past fresh soil and left
room for greener blotches to leave their marks on what used to be a pool of
stinking, amorphous gelatin. Leaves floated gently on the surface of a thin
stream of muck and curled upwards in an effort to rise as did the ancestors
about whom the wind used to whisper to them.
So drifted the breeze of rebirth across the moist earth and dried up
the veiny diffusion of ancient cancer. Spring claimed its throne once more
and cast a vast expanse of grass where a cesspool had previously swallowed
the heart of everlasting youth.
Sunshine rested like a soft pillow on a flowerbed of clouds. A golden
hue saturated the canyons of a jagged landscape as silence resonated
continually, as if the universe left its mouth open too long in exhaling
its last breath of fading creativity.
Stillness emerged from daylight as birds flew among a scattered
canopy of what used to be only shrubbery. Certain flocks went together and
left the more obscure species to deal with their inadequacy. If they were
to die, it was their own fault and no one else's. Still, the fledgling
aviators continued their usual course until one of the birds had the idea
to spend its time freely wandering on the ground.
Modesty removed the old man's security in being at the top of the
hill and his instinctive sense of purpose advanced him over and down the
slippery slope into infinite sadness.
Honesty congratulated the miserable old man for following through
instead of defending the delicate balance that surely would have kept his
trip at a tasteless standstill.
So he screwed up his plans. So what?
Some time much later, after the lengthy series of events finished its
turn taking up valuable space-time, a little boy walked on the same hill
where the old man had faltered and fallen, carrying his two different-
colored baskets of grain. Only he was going to the fields to see the grain
for the first time. At that point there was no marsh, no swampy fog, no
deathly aura, no scent of putrid infection. There was only him, the grassy
knoll, Springtime, and an objective that lay hidden somewhere beneath the
soil and above the clouds.
This was a defining moment: the capricious boy found a pair of
identical hollow, cone-shaped granite tools next to a stalk of grain. He
wasn't sure which to use, so he put one inside the other.
The boy was left with dust in his hands because nothing is set in
stone. He had no choice but to rid his hands of the crumbled artifacts, and
invent another way of collecting the grain. He grew weary thinking of what
he might do and he most certainly did not want to embarrass himself on the
scale that his predecessor, the old man, did. Alas, he grew weary of
growing weary, and decided to settle on the crest of the hill with a bundle
of grain he managed to rip from the soil with his bare hands. Looking up at
the unchanging pink banana-colored sky, he fell asleep. He never did figure
out what his dream meant. All he could say for certain is that he would
never end up like the old man.