© by Meta E. Lee
Second Place - Short Story
A boulder, melded from feldspar, quartz and bands of mica, lingered beneath the dank earth. And there it waited. Without light, rainbows wombed within this mass of granite were hidden.
In the fullness of time, too long for reckoning, the earth belched the rock higher. As it vaulted upward, the bulky weight of it crushed stones and newly formed fossils. When the granite surfaced, its colors -- peach, amber and veins of pale pale blue—glistened in the sunlight.
Blizzards and torrential storms pummeled the solid mass sculpting new dimensions: First, a head emerged with hair wavy and soft as waterweeds, then a round-hipped torso with sand covered breasts and outstretched arms and legs. Rain cleansed the boulder of grit and soil. Prone and immobile the granite, now in woman’s shape, waited. Wind, gentle and persistent, coaxed it into being. And thus Woman became a living soul. Her lungs stirred and gulped air. She coughed. Puzzled and amused, Woman coughed again.
Colliding sounds bombarded the quiet: Birds called, animals grunted, thunder echoed across the plains. Somewhere water reverberated as it splashed against a rocky shore. She cocked her head and strained to listen to shifting snow and floating clouds. In another range she heard the silence of space.
Blinking, Woman saw a montage of flickering color in haloed lights. As her eyes adjusted to so much glare, she observed her surroundings: Solid ground, trees, ambling streams as well as stagnant pools.
The scent of things wafted toward her-- the fragrance of mint and flowers and the pleasing aroma of her own skin. She inhaled the musky odor of small animals and winced at their redolent droppings.
Woman turned and rolled onto her knees and crawled on all fours, as would the baby she never was. Woman pulled a wriggling grub from beneath a rock, relishing its greasy flavor and its gelatinous mass against her tongue. She reached out and yanked small berries from a bush. The berries were sweet and succulent. The leaves were bitter and she spit them on the ground. She cupped icy spring water in her hands and slurped it in a single swallow.
Woman scratched soft moss from a tree trunk and kneaded it with her fingers. Scooping withered leaves from the ground, she crumbled them between her palms, tossed the remnants upward and tried to catch them as they drifted toward her toes.
On sunny days Woman frolicked under cascading waterfalls and bathed in streams. She caught fish and ate them greedily. With sticks Woman scratched the mud and drew the animals and birds saw. She slept on a pallet of twigs and leaves.
And thus Woman passed her days.
One night a mirage of dreams woke her. She visioned another like herself. Restless and troubled, she sensed emptiness in her heart and a hollow yearning high inside the petaled loveliness between her thighs.
For days and weeks Woman trudged in search of another like herself. She climbed hills of grass and banks of snow, rarely stopping for rest or food. Her feet were sore and blistered from wandering, her skin parched and cracked. At last Woman came to a place covered with dry earth and stones. Storms of whistling sand and gritty dust enveloped her, she stumbled and fell exhausted on the ground.
For days she slept a dreamless sleep. Upon awakening, Woman discovered a flat rock at her side. The rock resembled her! Her heart began to race. She laughed for the first time ever. Woman ran her hands across the rock’s cold smoothness. Crouching beside it she held the stone head in her strong hands and pressed her lips against its opened mouth forcing her breath inside. Her joyful tears flooded the closed sockets of its eyes. Woman bellowed raucous sounds into its ears. With flattened palms she patted its arms and legs. Although its chest was nippled, it lacked the fullness of her own breasts. Her fingers trailed across the curious mound below its flat navelless belly. Woman stabbed her wrist with a thorn and squirted her blood inside its opened mouth. Its color remained the color of ash.
Standing now, Woman kicked the rock. Her breathing was short and rapid. Woman stomped upon the inert form until her toes bled. With a heavy boulder held high she aimed toward the head. She prepared to hurl it but stopped mid-air as the granite figure began to stir. First a whimper then a groan.
Man turned and rolled onto his knees and crawled on all fours, as would the baby he never was. Woman hoisted him to his feet. Thus Man, made of Woman’s blood and breath and tears, became a living soul.
They trekked over hills of grass and mounds of snow, rarely stopping for rest or food. At last they came to a verdant oasis that stretched further than their eyes could see. They were surrounded by a garden with rolling hills, scampering hare, clear lakes teeming with fish, and bushes bursting with sweet berries.
In the midst of this lush perfection stood a tree, its branches heavy with enticing fruit.