by Rich Ives
In the village of Arriving there was a man who had the gift of sadness. He lived with a knobby woman with ponderous calves. At the tavern this man frequented, each of the women decorated their noses with bent fishhooks, and there were more women than there were men. On a certain dreary day in this distorted country of embarrassing truth, there could be found at the edge of the village two small old women who lived in a thimble and no longer wore bent fishhooks in their noses. Often they served tea and edible rocks known as “scones,” and an intense absence of intensity quietly occurred after.
The funeral they held in this village for the young boy who dreamt he had urinated on the king was lovely and premature. In fact, as luck would have it, the young boy turned out to be the only child (illegitimate of course) of the dead king, when push came to shove, and he later ruled the county into a ripe old age, where he may have actually pissed on himself, just as his dream foretold. But this day everyone in the village was mourning his death. This day was the day of wonderful mistakes.
In the fields outside the village an elaborate system of ropes and pulleys was used to raise the horses from one meadow to another, for this was the place where the great bronze stallions were raised that lived so quietly with such great deep attention to stability in the squares and parks of all the other villages.
It snowed on the day of mistakes, and before the snow had even begun getting moist and clinging to itself, while the animals still held folded into their lairs, a curious pall of gloom filled the same space the man with the gift of sadness occupied. If he hadn’t failed to move, the greater gloom might have settled into someone else, for he was not an industrious or nervous sort and staying in one position rather appealed to his sense of the virtuous disorder of the newer versions of the ancient art of conservation of energy.
The day after tomorrow may look different than the day before today, but what you accomplished yesterday does not give you purpose for today, said the first villager noticing the change in the man with the gift of sadness.
I think I might kill something slowly today, said the respectable huntsman to the inattentive serial killer, who only nodded and moved on. He called for his wife, who hadn’t met him yet, and he descended the path, which disappeared behind him with each step he took. The path kept dividing and dividing until he no longer had even an inkling about what tiny artery of obscure investigation he might eventually pop out of. If there was someone to ask about which turn he had taken that was the wrong one, he couldn’t find him, but then he wasn’t really looking very hard, now was he?
So the traveler came to a farmhouse where the farmer wasn’t home.
You’ll have to sleep in my daughter’s room until morning, said the absent farmer.
She’s not here? asked the traveler.
Oh she’s here all right, but she prefers sleeping on the floor. Just don’t wake her if she sleepwalks. It makes her ugly in the morning.
But later the morning’s still full, and there’s an ominous visitor spread out among the immaculate clothing. He doesn’t need to knock to get our attention although we pretend to be attending to someone less diffuse and more desperately gathering stories of renewal. Aren’t they beautiful, all those little turds and tracks and impulsive changes of direction that mark our ephemeral place with a map of vanity and mindless joy?
And with that the traveler began searching for the cathedral of great happiness in the offered room of the farmer’s daughter where the patience of bronze horses lived, and an owl made a noise like a question so that the silence after it wasn’t answered could be more complete.
Category: Fiction, Short Story, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing