| This is a story like any other. Ink spills across pages with the fast drying promise of adventure. The words are permanent, just like the memory of a lover’s lips brushing against your neck for the first time. And I am the author who brings you the story, and you are the reader who might decide to listen. We share a form of intimacy.
The first lines of this story are most important. Like the wafting scent of a settled glass of wine. What I show you first will linger for the sole reason that it came first. The image of an open field struck by sunlight, each blade of tall grass glittering as if it had conjured the light itself. Willow trees, pines and spruces like a wreath around the field. The scent of dew and mud which tells you a river runs nearby. Then the sound. The soft avalanche of water against stone which is almost indistinguishable from the rustle of paper in a good book. Both sounds urge you forward to the next twist and curve, and to the next chapter.
Even more important than what you see and hear and smell is what you feel. I won’t tell you how the sun would feel on your skin or how the birdsongs echo against the distant, unseen mountain. I won’t tell you this, because it’s not you in the story. It’s a woman. And if we listen carefully, press our ears to the ink on the page, we can hear the sound of her footsteps as she makes her way from the river to this field. Moreover, we can feel the calmness in her breathing and the strict exactness of her steps.
Let’s not use her name. It’s not needed. Names get in the way, I think. If I told you her name was Jennifer or Andrea or Tella or Alicia, you might get the impression that she is from a certain place or time. For now, she is nameless. She is a woman like any other.
She has windblown hair and a perpetual fleck of moonlight caught in her eye. She is a river traveler and a walker of fields whose footsteps now change from the cold, solid step of shoe on stone to the softer sound of her body passing through the tall grass.
She drinks from a bottle at her side, so we can infer that she knows where she is going. From the measured length of her steps, we know she has been here before. When she walks straight up to the tall statue in the center of the field, we are sure of it.
The statue is bleached white by the age old stare of the sun, and the fine details once carved so steadily have been worn down by the grazing touch of the wind. Can you feel the smooth stone beneath your fingertips as she runs her hand along the statue’s open hand? Does the smooth touch of paper mimic the eroded feel of something more solid?
The woman’s moonlit eyes travel up the length of the statue to its blank gaze. There is something almost delicate about the way she steps up on the marble platform on which this lifeless being stands. And if we watch her closely, we can see there is definitely a tenderness with which she lets herself rest against the statue’s body.
Is this strange to you? A woman lying in the open arms of a motionless figure? Something in her posture tells us that there is a kind of love here. And is it any stranger than the intensity you use in scanning these words, taking in each detail?
Details like the way her tanned skin contrasts the pale whiteness of the statue. The slight urgency in the way she breathes in the scent of stone—and of course the stone has a scent. It is both mineral and wind and would taste just barely of sunlight and water.
Then we have the careful way she traces her finger along the contours of the outstretched hand. I can tell you with certainty that she is looking for the fine lines that once told fortune’s tale of love, life and success. But the open palm is empty now, rubbed smooth. Nothing is distinguishable on the surface.
Here, we find her voice in a whisper, muted to the point that it would easily be mistaken for wind if we were not listening so closely. She leans up and speaks into the statue’s ear.
“Every time I see you, there is more and more of you gone. Every day, the wind tears another piece of you away and scatters your dust to the forest floors. Every day, the sun strikes down, and the color of your eyes fades away. The rain drags your skin away with each storm, and I fear for the day that gravity will pull you down into your grave. How long until I walk to this field and see your body in pieces? How long until your arms will no longer support my weight? How long until time reclaims you?”
And now I am sure you are wondering. Is this woman in love with the inanimate? It does appear so, but what kind of love is it? And is she insane, or was the statue once a real person? Where did this story start, and where will it go from here?
And also I am sure we have made assumptions. The statue is probably of a man. She spoke with emotion. The woman is quite beautiful, and she is entirely alone in her pilgrimage here. We know there is a story here. You can feel it.
You have glimpsed the intimacy in that sun-filled field. We aren’t intruding on this moment. After all, we were in the field first.
As I said before, this is a story like any other. You can feel it, and if you read on, I can show it to you.
Word Count: 996
For The Writer's Cramp