The Stone Wall – A Short Attention Span Sci-Fi Story   1 comment

dry-stone-wall

It was generally considered good form by the people of the village to engage in proper manners, especially in public. Therefore, when Mrs. Cottilard accidentally trod upon Mrs. Heflig’s front garden lavender, she made it a point to walk the winding slate path to her front door, knock twice, and apologize.

“I’m quite sorry,” Mrs. Cottilard said to Mrs. Heflig, “but it seems I lost my footing on the way to the grocer’s and stepped on the lavender blooms. They appear quite crushed, but this happened without malice. I merely tripped and could not catch myself in time to stop. If I could erase the harm I caused to your garden, I will.” Her humble glance underscored her sincerity in the matter.

“Of course I forgive you,” said Mrs. Heflig. “After all, it was me who neglected to wish you a happy birthday last October.”

“True,” said Mrs. Cottilard. “And we are dear, dear friends.”

For this transgression, however innocent, her gesture was considered, duly noted…and forgiven.

On those occasions upon which a person committed an act that might cause offense, and did not offer either an apology or restitution, one was compelled to find a stone proportionate with the size of the offense. The offender would then inscribe the act on it and place upon the Great Girthing Wall, a long stone wall that ran the perimeter of the village. No name was required, but this offered a venue for admission without guilt.

After many years, the stone wall grew long and high. Activity varied. Of course, it depended upon workplace issues, marital happiness, friendships, good grades in school, heath, security and general welfare. During times of strife, the wall tended to grow at a rapid pace. When all went well, fewer stones contributed to the wall’s girth. It seemed a fine solution for those experiencing difficulties speaking their mind and clearing the air. At least one could come clean with his or her troubles and sins, and no one would be the wiser.

Of course, many were able to determine by the size of the rock and the freshness of the paint who did what to whom. Yet no one ever accused anybody of anything. Better to carry the pain than to make a clean breast of it.

So it came to be that on a Wednesday morning, well before dawn, Mr. West strolled out of his house and selected a rock. Round, grey, with a touch of lichen, he squatted down to lift it from its resting place near the swamp.

“This will suit me,” he said. “I upset someone close to me, but not sure exactly how I did it. I can tell they’re not happy. Perhaps they’ll see this rock. They’ll see it’s become a weight on my soul. Apart from that, what can I do?”

So he picked up the rock to tote it to the Great Girthing Wall surrounding the village. His arms grew weary. His fingers grew numb. Still, he traveled a good distance but noticed no wall.

“Surely I’ve been walking in the right direction,” he said, dropping the stone to rest his weary limbs. “Where did it go? Perhaps in the darkness I’ve lost my way. I’ll wait until the first rays break the darkness. Then I’ll see it.”

Before long, several rosy beams reached above the horizon, illuminating the sky. Mr. West smiled, relieved. “That wall ought to be very close,” he said.

It wasn’t.

Without warning, Mr. West felt his legs give way beneath him. The earth had disappeared and it was only at the last moment he caught himself from tumbling into the long, circular crevasse that replaced the spot where the Great Girthing Wall had formerly stood.

Several minutes passed as he caught his breath and collected his senses. His legs dangled over the edges as a few bits of earth crumbled into it. “My God,” he said, “Where did it disappear to? How can it simply vanish?”

An old crone bearing a rock soon came close and inspected the place where the Great Girthing Wall once ringed the village. “I see it finally happened,” said she.

“What?” said Mr. West

“Somebody admitted the truth.”

“What do you mean? People do that every day,” said Mr. West.

The old crone let out a crooked laugh. “How do you think the Great Girthing Wall came to be? Those rocks – all here to take away the guilt, shame or even intention of offenses. All lies and excuses, growing heavier with each passing day.”

“Yes, but that’s the wall’s intention,” Mr. West said.

“That wall held us prisoner,” said the old crone. “Now at last, we’ve been set free.”

Posted September 9, 2016 by seleneymoon in Sci-Fi, Short Story, Writing

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One response to “The Stone Wall – A Short Attention Span Sci-Fi Story

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  1. Pingback: The Stone Wall – A Short Attention Span Sci-Fi Story | Moon, Stars and Beyond

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