Heart o' Stone

There was a boy who lost his heart. Who can say why? While you assume it was at the hand of some girl, it could have been the result of any number of things... Perhaps one of his parents died, or even a beloved pet. It may have been a friend who betrayed him, or simply moved away. Even something that he believed would always be true turned out to be false just once, might have been enough to shatter his heart. Whatever the reason, he was devastated. That is all you need know.

Broken hearted, he prayed to the heavens. He didn't ask for the cup to be taken from him or that time be turned back before this unspeakable thing had happened, or even that his heart might be healed. I told you that he was devastated, I never told you he was a fool. He was only a boy; no better than all the boys before him, or the endless legions of boys who would follow him. All he wanted was to know why he had to live in a world where such pain was possible. I never said he was not an ignorant boy, but at least he wasn't a fool.

He fled from everything he knew, until he could not run any further. Exhausted, he fell to the cold ground. As he climbed to his feet, he looked up to the heavens and demanded to know why. And then it seemed that the heavens opened up and began to weep for his loss.

There was nothing miraculous about what happened next, it was only the Perseids meteor shower (unless it was Winter, and then it must have been the Quandrantids, I don't quite remember). He fell to his knees upon beholding this glorious sight, but his reverence seemed in vain; for lo- he received no epiphany which might reveal unto him his place in the world, or why he must suffer so. However, his parents had taught him that all good things come to those with the courage and fortitude to wait, so this brave lad endured the entire spectacle for a sign. After a time, his sense of wonder began to fade, with the force of the meteor shower. That heavenly spectacle passed and took with it, his last, best hope of redemption away forever.

Not wanting to return home in shame, he wiped the hope that things could change away, along with the tears from his face. If he was young enough, perhaps he sucked his thumb. If he was older, he might have smoked a cigarette. Certainly, if he saw a drinking fountain, he would have washed his face and dried it with his shirt. I can tell you that he did whatever he felt like he needed to do and he was ready to get up and live with the rest of his life when he heard a sound like a host a voices that screamed out in the same pain that he had known. And then the sky before him turned to gold.

Suddenly, the he was thrown onto his face as the ground heaved beneath him. The last meteor had landed in front of him, like the answer to all of his prayers. He stumbled forward one pace for every year he had lived, to find a shallow crater. It lay there, slightly larger than his fist, which is to say it was the same size as the heart that he had lost.

Anyone can tell you that meteors are nothing more than ice and stone. The ice was nothing more than frozen water, and the stone was no more exotic than a hand-sized rock that you might pick up anywhere. Certainly, the stone contained an abundance of both minerals and metals, and while there may have been some gold in this rock (with ice around it), one mustn't think that it was made of gold.

Now the boy's parents had raised him to be polite, so he would hardly refuse a gift from the gods, no matter what it seemed to be. Also he was never raised to be such a fool as to offend the heavens and incur further wrath, so he picked up the heart-shaped stone and placed it inside the empty space where his heart used to beat.

It felt hard and it felt cold. You must remember, he was taught to be polite and wanted no further retribution, so he proclaimed "At least it fits!" and went back home and he lived ever after.

©1998 Alex Ledante

I don't ask you to pity the boy who found the stone in the field behind his house. In Mandarin, I could use a neuter character, and never reveal the sex of the protagonist. If my hero had to life with the pain of disillusionment, at least he wasn't expected to spend his life twenty pounds underweight. Don't take this seriously; I was just in the mood to tell a grim fairy tale is all...