by Al O'Kin
A story of those who found each other
| Ekheus was a beautiful young man with black curly hair and skin pale as marble. He used to go to a lovely garden every day to rest and look at beautiful sculptures. He looked at their faces thinking about statues as if they were real people. He believed that once, long ago, they had had their own lives full of joy and sorrow, love and hate. He could stare at a statue's face for hours.
But one day Ekheus met a statue with a face he kept thinking about all night and following day. The image of it stayed with him, no matter how hard the young man tried to forget it. All week he kept coming back to it.
It was a full-size statue of a middle-aged man with a thousand-yard stare. There was nothing special about its pose or its body, but the face was so alive, as if it wanted to say something to the leisured watchers but had no ability to say a single word. Ekheus became obsessed with that statue.
With insomnia in his eyes, he went to the garden hoping that he could look again in the eyes of the marble man, but he could not find him anywhere. Only the pedestal was left in its usual place.
Sad and desperate, he trudged to the fountain near the center of the garden. Ekheus was full of desire to cry out loud his sorrow. He sat on a bench and covered his weeping eyes with his hands. He could not forget the statue's beauty.
And then someone shook his shoulder. Ekheus looked behind himself and saw a man. The man smiled at him and pointed with his finger at his lips. He sat down near Ekheus and started to show him things with his hands, but Ekheus could not understand. The man took a stick and began to draw words on the ground. His name was Lithos, and he had come here by night. He had been walking around when he'd heard a little cry.
He wrote that he was glad Ekheus wasn't crying anymore. When Ekheus asked how he'd got here and where Lithos lived, Lithos didn't know what to say. Then he wrote a strange name of a city or a place that Ekheus didn't know. Ekheus told him about Athens and how beautiful it was. He talked about theaters, gardens, agoras and forums. About streets and people, fruits and drinks. He wanted to show the city to Lithos, but sadness touched the stranger's face. Ekheus kept looking in Lithos' eyes and talking about the city with shining stars in his own eyes. Lithos began to draw lines, and Ekheus became silent; he watched the man's hands, how they drew the lines, and the lines formed a face with eyes full of stars. An image of the sky was inclosed in Ekheus' face - as that is what was on the ground. Ekheus was astonished with the picture and suddenly he realised that Lithos had disappeared. He tried to find the man, but he could not. There was no sign of anyone.
Ekheus went home thinking about the voiceless man and the picture. He felt strange and wanted to see Lithos at least one more time.
Next evening Ekheus headed to the fountain. He found Lithos on the same bench. Lithos smiled at him, like he did at the first time. Now they were both speechless. They looked at each other and sometimes both turned and looked at the sky, ablush. Then Ekheus spoke. He told Lithos an ancient legend about the Pleiades. Lithos listened to Ekheus carefully, catching every word he spoke. Ekheus was pleased but then Lithos disappeared again, in the blink of an eye. The early rays of the sun came to shine through the trees' branches.
Ekheus was sad again but also curious: how could it be possible for a man to disappear so quietly? It occured to Ekheus that he had seen Lithos somewhere before, not so long ago. Ekheus' eyes widened with amazement. He remembered the statue he liked some time ago and realised that Lithos looked very similar to it. He ran to the statue and looked at it: the man he'd met had become a statue.
Without doubt, it was him. The marble stranger's name was carved in the stone nameplate.
Ekheus fell on his knees and started to cry. When the last teardrop was gone, he could no longer move. His muscles, his body became pure marble.
Since then there were two statues beside each other. Once and forever.