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Something Lost

by Carol Vandegrift 7 months ago in Short Story
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a story told in 31 parts

1.

“Something Lost”

A Story Told in 31 Parts

There was once a man who visited his love every day.

One day he arrived to find her gone.

2.

Knowing he would feel foolish if she were simply out collecting water, he asked the house itself.

“Where is she?” he asked the door.

“I know not,” it answered.

The man waited, but the wood yielded no other answer.

3.

This worried the man.

He forced the house’s door and searched the rooms. He found the kettle on the stove, the wardrobe full, the traveling trunk empty. The only things out of place were some cold ashes spilled from the hearth.

4.

This angered the man. He did not understand how a door could not know what went on in its own house.

The man went back outside to confront it.

“You heard nothing?” he asked of the door.

“Yesterday I heard a thump upon the boards inside. Then she left toward the river,” it said.

5.

This enraged the man.

“Why did you not say she left?” he demanded. “How come I was not told?”

“You asked where she is,” replied the door. “And that, I still know not. I was built to protect those inside. I cannot defend nor give warning nor fight. I can only be what I am.”

6.

The man did not know what to do. He feared for his love, and for his own life without her.

He kicked the door in frustration. The timbers groaned.

He rather thought his fear would abate with action. He gathered his knife and bow, then made to turn his back on the house.

7.

“I do hope you find her,” said the door.

“If I do, it will be no thanks to you,” spat the man.

“She tended me and my fellow walls and our roof. She made me part of something whole. She loved me as I love her,” said the door sadly. “You are not the only one with something lost.”

8.

The man set out to find his love. He followed the path to the river, but could find no sign of her. He did not understand how she could travel so far and not leave a trace.

The man fell to his knees. He thought he would never see his love again.

His tears splashed upon the water.

9.

“You look as one who is sickening for something,” said a voice. “Best tell me what it is before my water turns all to salt.”

The man jumped back and wiped his face. “None of your business,” he grumped at the river.

“It could be,” said the river. “If you were to tell me of it.”

10.

The man considered. He did not trust the river; he never trusted anything that never stayed the same.

“I am looking for my love,” said the man cautiously.

“Ah, love!” said the river with a rich, hearty laugh. “Chasing such things could kill a man, didn’t you know?”

11.

“Best to move on, dear fellow,” the river chuckled. “Forget that which you’ve lost and find another. There are plenty of fish to catch if you keep looking.”

This angered the man. He seized a rock and threw it into the river with a violent splash.

The river writhed uncomfortably.

12.

“What do you know of love?” the man shouted.

“Quite a bit,” replied the river. “I have loved and lost, much like most men.”

“Love is constant and forever,” argued the man. “I would expect nothing more from a river, which could never stay still long enough to love anything.”

13.

“My love is indeed fluid,” said the river sagely. “I move and change with the ground beneath me, going where I find a space to be, reveling in my motion. But I can be nothing more than what I am. You are a fool to think you are not the same.”

The man turned his back on the river.

14.

The man walked until he came to a lake. There was no path nor tracks nor sign of living things. He walked around the lake until he reached the foot of a mountain.

As the man approached, he saw something on the ground.

It was a handkerchief he had once given his love.

15.

This worried the man. The handkerchief was next to a large boulder at the edge of the lake. It was cracked down the middle.

The man saw no other sign of his love. He knew then that the mountain must have taken her.

The man began to search frantically for a way past the boulder.

16.

The man cried out for his love, but heard no reply. He found no footholds to climb, nor caves to search. Finally, he pulled his knife and began to hack at the stone.

“Give her back!” shouted the man in a rage. “Give her back or I will cut through this whole mountain myself!”

17.

“Now, that is something I would like to see,” a deep voice rumbled.

The man stumbled back from the mountain.

“I am naught but stone and earth and old, old knowing,” said the boulder. “I cannot take nor give that which I do not own. Those who claim to love must realize the same.”

18.

This upset the man.

“I would expect you of all things to understand,” he said. “Love is as solid as stone, as ancient as earth, as everlasting as a mountain.”

The very ground shook with the mountain’s laugh.

“I doubt very much the nature of the world is as you see it,” it said.

19.

The stone in front of the man trembled. He watched as the crack slowly widened into a cave. From its depths, a figure approached.

Her smile was radiant and her hair shone like the sun. It was his love.

He scooped her up in his arms, laughing in relief. His love embraced him back.

20.

“How did you come to be here?” The man asked of his love. “Was it the mountain that took you?”

“What makes you believe I was taken?” she replied.

“I didn’t know what became of you,” he answered. “The mountain laughed and told me nothing. I nearly went mad in my search for you.”

21.

“I was not taken,” his love explained. “I was saved.

The stones of the chimney watched me slip and fall unconscious. The earth bore me along the path. The river bore me upstream to the lake. I awoke deep in the mountain, the very place from whence the chimney stones were mined.”

22.

This confused the man. It was not what he had thought at all.

“It was the heart of the mountain that healed me,” his love went on. “I owe it a great debt.”

She placed a hand tenderly on the boulder. She frowned.

“This stone says you used your blade against it,” she whispered.

23.

“I admit I did,” said the man. “I thought the mountain was keeping you from me.”

“A mountain is a mountain, love,” she replied sadly. “It cannot be moved by shouts or blades or threats. It can be no more or less than what it is.”

Her hand remained on the stone a few moments more.

24.

The man journeyed home with his love. They came to a stream where they stopped to drink.

The man scooped water to his mouth, but as his love bent to do the same, she paused.

“This river says it knows you,” she said quietly. “You threw a rock at it not a few hours gone.”

25.

“I do know this river,” admitted the man. “I met it as I searched for you. It told me to find another love.”

“So why did you hurt it?” she asked him.

“I could never find another love. It was cruel to suggest such a thing.”

“Cruel? A river can only be a river,” she replied sadly.

26.

Finally, the man and his love arrived at her house. She ran joyfully up to the door, for she missed the house and regretted leaving it for so long.

She touched the door, and her face fell.

“What’s the matter?” asked the man.

“The door says you kicked it,” she replied softly.

27.

“I admit I did,” said the man. “It wouldn’t tell me where you were. It was out of fear and grief.”

His love tenderly caressed the door frame.

Her eyes found his, but the man said nothing more. His love nodded let herself into the house. She sat at the table with her head bowed.

28.

“Are you all right, my love?” he asked. “It is a fine house, but you must believe me. I was mad with grief. The house would not help. I acted in anger, but I had to find you.”

“A door would only know so much,” she replied. “It was willing to help if you were willing to listen.”

29.

This quieted the man.

“A house is a house,” said his love. “A river is a river. A stone is a stone. They might be cruel, but not to you. A house shelters, a river flows, a stone stands. Asking them to do more is against nature. I fear all it does is bring out the cruelty in men.”

30.

“My love,” the man pleaded, “you must understand. I couldn’t lose you.”

The woman stood and met the man’s eyes.

“To love is not to own,” she said. “It is to know yourself through the world around you. I am the wood of the door, the water of the river, the stone of the mountain.”

31.

“I was mistaken,” said the man. “But my love for you is true.”

“One cannot love if he does not know the nature of things,” said the woman. “Especially one who does not know his own. I am not cruel. I am not something lost.”

The woman pointed to the door.

“And I am not your love.”

Short Story

About the author

Carol Vandegrift

if i can't sink into it or wrap myself around it or let it take me over then you can just keep it

usually an aquarius but not sure what that means

cannot resist palm trees or puzzles or words - not necessarily in that order

(she/her)

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