Today’s the day I change. I thought for probably the thousandth time. But for real this time. I’m gonna change, I mean it!
It was a Saturday, lovely yellow clouds filled the blue sky and the perfect golden glow of the sunset flowed through them. It was the perfect weather, the perfect day, and yet– I was still lying to myself. Still pretending that I could change, that I even wanted to. If I wanted to, wouldn't I have by now? Why was I such a failure? Such a disappointment. I sat on a bench and looked out over the green hills stretching away from town, illuminated by the dazzling sunlight. I felt such a deep longing within me at the sight of them, why did the hills get to exist so effortlessly? They sat and grew and glowed and they were breathtaking, but me, I tried my hardest and couldn’t get myself to do anything. It was like someone had built a wall in my mind keeping me from action. I hated it. I wanted to be like the hills, to exist, to be important in a quiet sort of way, to be bathed in the sun’s light.
Today’s the day I change. I have to, I can’t keep living my life in circles. Something needs to change and quick, before I open my eyes and realize my whole blessed life is past.
I stood up still captivated by the ethereal hills, it seemed as if they were calling me. Calling me without a voice, their silence was like a spell.
I walked to the rotten wooden fence that separated the orderly town from the rolling fields of wood and hill. I felt the soft damp wood under my hand and hoisted myself up and over the low barrier. My feet landed gently on the radiant grass. I looked back at the stone houses of the town and felt like maybe I understood the hills a little better now. In a way the town was a part of them, it existed nestled in the middle of their sprawling depths after all. And yet– it was somehow not the same, like it was in a separate dimension, existing in its own reality apart from nature.
I faced the hills and the glowing sunset again, walking towards a clump of Oaks that seemed as good a destination as any. Dampness from the grass brushed my legs, I liked it, it was like it was saying, hello. The streets never said anything. Well, not loudly anyway, mostly they held their stories close. Better to go to a museum to hear the stories of the streets. It was not like that with the grass. It was new, brand new and very much alive, and it was telling me with the icy water that it left on my legs. I liked it, life wasn't comfy, and the grass knew that. I let a smile run up to my lips, I should really go on more walks, I liked how my mind worked better in nature than anywhere else.
I broke into a run and skittered down a slippery grass covered hill into the midst of the trees, their twisting branches and knobbley white bark was so fun, so inviting. I loved it, why didn’t more people understand how important something like this was? We make up rules and Ideas about how the world works and expect everyone to follow them. We say, trees are trees. But they aren’t, they're special, important, vital. Send me to the woods over a city anyday.
I brushed my hands along the bark as I made my way to the center of the grove. There was a rock in the middle and a fallen tree beside it. It must have been dead for years; most of its bark had fallen off and was busily decomposing alongside it, the grey inner wood had been smoothed by the passing of time and bleached by the sun. I sat on it, next to the rock. I didn’t even know what I was doing. Why was I even here? The sun would be setting soon, I should really be getting back. Back to what?
Good question. I said I’m going to change. I want to be better. I want my life to matter, I don’t want to live in the grey monotony anymore. But– ahg, how do I do that? I can’t live off of the woods. I don’t know how to do anything, but I know I can’t keep doing what I’ve been doing. I can’t keep lying to myself, saying I’ll change day after day and doing nothing about it. That was it. I was changing right now. I was going to stay out here, with the rock and the dead tree all night. I was going to learn what I could from the trees and the moonlight and tomorrow I would go back and face everything again, hopefully with something to show for it.
The last rays of the sun were filtering through the leaves and I stood up on the log to get a better view. Beams of light painted the three of us golden. The rock, the log, and me, together in at least one thing; we were saying goodnight to the sun together. The light drifted up until just my eyes were lit, then the tops of the trees, and then only the distant clouds. I settled back down on the log, laying back to watch the moonrise.
I could feel the silence of the hills filling me up. It was lovely, I could feel my mind breaking from the cycles of normal life. I hoped I wasn’t still lying to myself. I didn’t want to go back to the daily grind again. It was killing me. I felt like I was melting into a little brown ball of nothingness. I wasn’t important, I wasn’t good at normal things. My brain couldn't make sense of anything out there. But here... It was different. I could feel that the hills were important, and being in them made me feel still in such a lovely way. All the busy scribbles of the world wiped away with the gentle harshness of the cold grass, with the goodbye of the sun, with the weathered wood beneath me and the quiet rock beside me.
How long had they been here I wondered. The log and the rock, here, in this glade in the hills. Certainly as long as I had been alive and probably much longer. If rocks could speak I wondered what stories this one could tell. I flipped over and brushed my fingers across the cold moss-covered stone,
“What have you seen?” I mused, “I wonder,”
I rolled back over in time for the first beams of moonlight to slice through the night. I thought I must be imagining it, but It felt almost physical. Like the moonlight was brushing my face with its icy hands.
“How did you do it?” A voice said behind me.
I nearly lept out of my skin, adrenaline racing through me and I spun about jumping to my feet on the dead tree. A boy stood next to the log where the rock had been. His shaggy hair was a dark charcoal and his skin was a pale ashen grey. Moss green eyes stared out of a thin face that looked my age, and I realised this boy was the stone. He had the same serene stillness, that same quiet presence the stone had had. He held up his hands and looked at them, black nails catching the moonlight. “It's been so long.”
“You're the stone.” I said with a quavering voice, still trying to calm myself down from the shock.
“I am, and now I look like you, I haven’t had this form for– for a very long time. It’s strange, I forgot how different time is when I exist like this. How did you do it? You woke me up, I’ve been sleeping for so long, and rocks are very hard to wake, so how did you do it?”
“Uh, I’m not sure, I just sort of asked you what you have seen..I was wondering what it was like to be you, and then I rolled over and the moon came out and then you almost startled me out of my skin.”
“Hmm, well what a lovely thing to have awakened too, honest and intense curiosity with a touch of moonlight. I’ll have to thank her for that.” I stepped down off the tree and looked up at him.
“I’m Sera, what's your name?” He looked mildly confused,
“Name? I’m just Stone.”
“Ok then, Stone.”
“Sera, I can tell that this world is very different from the last time I was awake, it feels much more tame, are there other magical creatures here?”
“Other magical creatures? Stone, you are the first creature like this that I have ever met.”
“Oh, you seem very calm if that’s the case.” And the strangest thing was that he was right. The emotions that I felt upon seeing him, upon realising this boy was the stone, were not fear or disbelief. I was relieved, and joy was slowly filling me up. A stupid grin spread across my face,
“I am very, very happy to be meeting you, Stone, you have no idea.” He smiled back at me,
“Well in that case Sera, I have some things I need to find out and would love for you to come with me.” He held out his hand.
Stories of fairies and magical creatures tricking humans swirled through my mind. But I had said I wanted to change, I didn't want to feel stuck and lifeless anymore and now a literal stone was asking me to go on an adventure with him. How on earth could I go back to my normal life after learning that a stone could look like a person?! What other amazing things were out there? It wasn’t even a question, even if this boy led me to my death I was going.
I reached out and took his surprisingly warm hand. He caught my gaze with his green eyes and a warm wind blew through the wood around us. I felt something shift then, and when I looked away from him I knew we were somewhere very different. Everything looked the same, but It felt different. Like how the town didn't feel like the meadow. I knew we had somehow changed layers, or dimensions, or maybe I could just notice more now.
Stone released my hand and turned to the moon, squinting up at it, I looked to.
The moon was a woman, how on earth had I never noticed that before?? It was the plainest thing I had ever seen. I could see her curved back and long twisting hair, her glowing silver eyes stared sleepily out over the land.
“Stone, is everything I’ve heard of and imagined real?”
“I don’t know, your world is alien to me, but there are certainly many more like me and many more who are very very different. The world is very much alive, Sera,” The way he said alive sent shivers of fear and happiness through me. “There are things about this time that I need to learn more about, I need to know why I was asleep for that long, that is not as it should have been, and neither is the world. ” I turned to him,
“Well then, where to first?”