The perspective of a rock

The perspective of a rock

A Story by Crayon
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My first real story!

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Finally the truck rolls into the farmyard, and pulls to a stop. It’s been a two-leg, five hour journey from my city home, but we’ve finally reached the place I’ve been longing to be for months. I hop out of the back of the truck, and my feet raise a little puff of brown-red dust. Grandpa gets out of the driver’s side and we start lugging my suitcase and the groceries we grabbed in Maple creek a few hours ago up to the little farm house that’s been standing since my mum was a little girl.

We carry our loads in silence, and I marvel at the sheer noiselessness. I live in a city of a million at home, and it ever ceases to amaze me just how quiet it can be out here on the farm. My grandparents have owned and operated this farm since my mother and uncle were little children. It’s out in South west Saskatchewan, very close to the American border. They live alone, the nearest neighbour is at least half an hour away, and they’ve grown used to being quiet. They don’t talk much, as far as I can tell anyway. When mum lived here she absolutely hated it. She was bored all of the time, and as soon as she could, she packed up her truck and left. In a way I understand why she did that, Grandma and Grandpa are extremely hard to live with for long periods of time, but I still love it here.

Once the truck is all unloaded Grandpa goes into the living room and puts the TV on to Business News television, and that’s my cue to skedaddle. Grandma is always in the kitchen preparing dinner or painting, depending on the time of the day, and when I walk in she’s putting the finishing touches on a painting of the crocus flowers that are so common out here. 

            “Hey Grandma, that looks really great,” I say, walking around behind her to get a better view of the painting. I pull out a mismatched chair kiddie corner from her and sit down. The table is covered in painting paraphernalia right now, but it’s the same table that they had when the place was built. Idly I wonder how many family arguments it’s seen.

            “Oh, it’s nothing,” She always puts herself down, no matter what. It makes me kind of sad, but I know that living with my loveable, yet highly judgemental Grandfather has done that to her. Heck, it did that to my mom, and if I’m not careful, I let him get to me too, even for the short stays I usually manage.

            “No, really, I love the way you used the different shades of yellow here and here,” I lean over the table and point at the delicate, almost rose like petals that are distinctive stamp of the prairie flower. She gives me a dry little scoff, one I’ve come to know well over the years that generally means, “Oh don’t be so silly!”

            She looks up at me and smiles a little though, so I know she appreciates the compliment.

            “So how’s life in the city?” She asks me, and she gets up from her chair and putters about the tiny old fashioned kitchen making tea for her, and just straight hot water for Grandpa. “We were really surprised to get your phone call last week…” She trails off, waiting for me to fill in the blanks.

            I watch her get the water boiling and ponder how to answer such a volatile question. She is referring to the phone call I made last week, almost in tears, asking if I could come down here for a week, while school was out on spring vacation. Lately I’ve been feeling depressed and all out of sorts, and like my parents and school were expecting too much from me. At the same time, I’d been sort of half feeling a call back into religion, but after a terrible experience with it in my past I was scared. What she wants me to do is spill out all of my feelings to her, to let her into my head. However I have serious trust issues and Grandma isn’t the best confidant in the entire world. I wonder how much it’s ‘safe’ to tell her. I’m dying to talk to someone about the dysfunction in my home life, but Grandma is a renowned gossip.

            “It’s okay” I answer in a noncommittal tone. “Just, stressful with Dad gone all of the time, and the drama about the flower shop.” There, I think to myself. I know that’s about as much as Mum has told her, so I’m still in the safe zone.

            She gives me a funny look, well aware that I haven’t told her anything new. “You seemed pretty upset on the phone…” She does her little trailing off thing again, waiting and watching with keen eyes from years of small town gossip. 

            I shrug, not quite meeting her eyes and get up from the table just as she sits back down with her tea. I walk over to the window and study the gorgeous view of the blooming prairie, with a hint of the mountains in the distance. I study the familiar pattern of the granaries in the yard, stalling for time. The silence stretches out for a time better measured in heartbeats than seconds. Finally I come to a decision and break it by turning around to face her. She is still looking at me, and I feel x-rayed by her sharp blue eyes.

            I start with a sigh, and my speech is breathy and broken. “I’ve… been feeling lost lately. I’m starting to feel like the million people in that city are crushing me, are suffocating me, and it feels like I have to fight every one of them for each breath. I’m feeling overwhelmed by what’s expected of me at home, between keeping the house to mums standards…” I get a little grin of sympathy here, as my mother’s capability for neat-freak-ness is famous in our family. “… And since Dad was elected alderman he’s never home so I have to try and fill in the gap he’s left and I have school, and university to start worrying about” My words start to run together and I feel my face heat with tears “ And my marks aren’t good enough, no matter how hard I work, and none of my friends understand, they don’t understand why I’m worried, they don’t even know what they want from their lives yet! And I’m so sad all of the time, I never have any energy and that makes it so hard to just get out of bed in the morning, much less get through the day, but by the time it’s time for bed I can’t fall asleep. And I just feel like everything is coming apart, Mum and Dad are fighting and with the Flower shop and the move and they wanted to sell, but it’s not worth any money right now and they’ve owned it for so long that they can’t just sell it for a pittance, and… It’s just too much.”

            I trail off here, well aware I’ve said too much, but it felt so good to talk about it, even though I only scratched the surface of what’s bothering me. Grandma looks at me for a long while, her features bright in the afternoon light. She starts to talk, but I suddenly don’t want to hear her dissect my life and put it into neat little categories. I push off from the counter top and start walking to the door.

            “The north pasture is empty right?” I step out of her sight and  into the awkward little hallway that houses the closet, basement stairs and door, slipping on my shoes.

            “Yes,” she calls back and I can hear in her voice that she’s a little taken aback. I don’t blame her. Normally I keep a pretty tight leash on my emotions. “All the cows are over East, by the old dam. Are you going walking?”

“I think so.” I say, bent over digging for my black messenger bag. When I finally find it I stuff it with a water bottle from the stack by the door, my copy of “Macbeth” and my journal. “I’ll be back before dinner.” It’s probably one-ish right now, and dinner is at six thirty sharp so I will have time to think, to calm down and to work things out in my own head. And without another word I head out, almost slamming the poor door in my haste.

 It’s not until I’m out of sight from the house, walking along the bottom of a coulee that I calm myself and can breathe easy again. For a while I just walk, inhaling the calm serenity of such a place, so far removed from the reality of my usual world. Its late spring, the last of the snow has melted off and the grasses and brush are starting to bloom again, painting the hills in thousands of green and golden hues. There’s a hawk circling above my head, drifting on the thermals and scouting for the little mice and rodents that make their homes in the deep coulees. I step on a sage brush, and its sweet pungent smell dances with the little alfalfa flowers and buffalo beans, creating a delicious banquet for my city starved senses.

Eventually I walk myself out, and I climb up to the crest of the hills bordering the coulee. I sit facing away from the house, a large weather beaten, lichen covered rock at my back. I close my eyes and lean back, all concerns forgotten in the sweet embrace of warm sun and protecting stone.

When I open them again, something seems... different. For one, I’m not in the same spot as when I fell asleep. It’s like I moved back a few inches. It like... I’m inside the rock. That’s ridiculous I think, but when I try and shift my position, to move I find myself weighted down, my body like... stone.

Oddly enough, I’m not startled by these  changes. It seems like something natural, no more out of the ordinary than brushing my hair, or getting on the bus. My view is different too, I realize. I’m no longer turned away from the house, I’m facing it. Or, at least where it should be. On the rise where the hill and yard should be, all I can see is natural prairie. The barn, the granaries, the house, all gone. Before the shock hits me though, something happens. A massive black shape is pouring across the grassland, and while it’s not moving slow, it looks almost like a tape on fast forward. As the shape moves closer I realize that it's not one solid mass, its really just hundreds of buffalo moving in a herd.

I blink, trying to comprehend what I’m seeing. I know that these mighty massive creatures were hunted to near extinction by settlers hundreds of years ago, and that there are only a couple hundred living on the parries still, under protection of the nature conservancy. The herd before me though looks like it could consist of at least eight hundred creatures. I consider the possible explanations for my scenario. Number one is that I am officially insane. I don’t like that choice though so I move onto to option two that I am dreaming. It’s possible I admit, but everything I can see is too clear, too crisp and I don’t feel that dream like lethargy. However, in most dreams, everything already makes sense, and I don’t usually have to puzzle things out. This leaves me option number three. What if what I am seeing is history, being played out in front of my eyes, just like a movie on fast forward? As I watch the buffalo graze I decide to accept this explanation, and just watch.

Before much time at all passes I see painted Native Americans creeping up on the buffalo, disguised as buffalo themselves. All at once they jump out of hiding and attack the unsuspecting creatures. When the blood lust fades, most of the herd has run off, but the Natives managed to bring down five of the massive animals. Shortly the women and children join the men at the carcasass and while some work at preparing the meat, others set up tents and fire pits, and all the makings of a camp. They all move with the funny shuffling fast walk that I associated with being on fast forward, and before I know it they are gone again, all sign of their presence gone but for a few arrows heads and tepee circles. For a long while nothing happens, but the grass moving in the wind and the what I assume to be annual visits of the Native tribe. Many many years go by like this, hundreds perhaps, snow in the winter, buffalo in the summer. But for me it all passes in the blink of an eye.

But one summer, it is different. I’d noticed the amount of the buffalo in the summer decreasing lately, but this summer there were only about fifteen or so. And this year, instead of Native Americans come to set up camp, I see a pale family of four in a covered wagon drawn by black ponies. I watch, fascinated as they build a little cabin of sheet wood from the wagon, and I don’t wonder at this as I know there are no trees to speak of for miles around. They build in a spot well away from the spot where the house I know will one day be built and I wonder what drew them here. There’s no water, but what they can drill to in the ground, no trees for fire, nothing that would draw a poor family to live off the land. Several more years pass, and the family mourns the loss of the youngest daughter to pneumonia in the cold of the winter, and this shakes me. I watch as year by year they grow gaunter, poorer, the little land they’ve managed to cultivate fails, the house burns, disaster after disaster befalls my little family, until eventually ten or so years after they first came, they leave. I assume that they are headed back to a town, maybe Maple creek, and I wish them well as they go. Several more years pass, a few decades really, before people come to my section of the prairie again. But when they finally do, I am shocked.

A young couple comes in a beat up old (by my standards) pickup truck. They walk around the land close to me, and when the woman passes, I am struck by how much she looks like my mother, but with blue eyes. The man comes and takes her hand and they watch the sun go down beside me. And that’s when, a little late maybe, I realize just who these people are. My grandparents. Grandpa, with the intelligence to build a successful farm from the ground up and himself into a millionaire from less than a high school education and my Grandma. An equally strong woman, who will help him with all of the work of clearing the farm, building two homes, and on top of that raise two children and loving two granddaughters.

As I watch, shocked, everything I predicted happens They first build a house near the failed homestead, but a year after my mother was born they build the house that I know so well. And they actually build these houses, with help from neighbours yes, but by hand! I watch my mother and uncle grow up, the farm become a success and my grandparents age. Suddenly I understand why Grandpa is so critical, after building this empire from the ground up, he came to expect perfection not only from his self, but from everyone around him. I know why Mum wants her house clean, because during her boring days on the farm she would clean house, and became used to that standard of rightness, of control. And with an even more jarring shock, thirty some years later I watch as the baby that will one day grow into me is brought here for the first time.

Seventeen more years pass, farm machinery, cows and snow heralding the changing of the seasons. And then, coming over the hill towards me, is, well ME! As I study my face, so intorvertated and troubled, I realize something. But before I have time to fully grasp it, I’m back where I started, outside the rock, turned away from the house. Its as if no time has passed at all, and I get up and walk over to the site of the fist homestead, mulling over my experience. As I think I come to the conclusion that while my problems are monumental for me, hey are no more than the problems that others before me have dealt with, and survived. And if that rock can live through so many years unruffled, so many upheavals so many troubles, then I can at least live out my hundred to the fullest and best!

 

© 2011 Crayon


Author's Note

Crayon
I've said many times that I'm not a story teller, but here is my best shot :)

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Featured Review

That was realy good! The observations were described superbly, the insights were wise and educated, there were quite a few touches of psychology incorporated into an incredibly warm, homely story, past and present were blended expertly, a very enjoyable read, you have a real talent for this kind of writing, thankyou.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

That was realy good! The observations were described superbly, the insights were wise and educated, there were quite a few touches of psychology incorporated into an incredibly warm, homely story, past and present were blended expertly, a very enjoyable read, you have a real talent for this kind of writing, thankyou.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Story tellin is as easy as falling off a bike, just let it happen.

Posted 8 Years Ago


Great job! I loved the ending the best!

"And if that rock can live through so many years unruffled, so many upheavals so many troubles, then I can at least live out my hundred to the fullest and best!"



Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

You area wonderful storyteller! This writing really moved me. I loved the prelude to your leaving the house. Then becoming one with the rock, what a beautiful and clever transition into the vision of how you came to be, what you now are, even where you are going. Awesome!
I believe that everything in nature has a spirit, even rocks. i bet you do too, now.
Thank you for a delightful, inspirational story. Keep writing, you have a real gift!

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on April 6, 2011
Last Updated on April 7, 2011
Tags: parrie, coulee, rock, homesteader, western, canada

Author

Crayon
Crayon

Calgary, Alberta, Canada



About
I am a 17 year old Canadian girl. I have a passion for wirtting, but don't usually have the focus for a long story. Therefore I stick to my poems. I will take read requests, but please I only reall.. more..

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