The Stone11 mins 432 11 mins 432
The boy walked along the river bank quietly, watching the fish labour up river against the current. He wondered why nature had made them work so hard to spawn, while other animals mated without more than minor rituals, especially humans. As he moved further down steam he spied many fish who had died on the journey but there was one that was caught among the rocks and struggling to get free.
The boy waded into the shallow water to free the fish but when it turned over the boy saw that it's belly was torn open. "You are dying." Said the boy sadly.
But then he saw a shining blue stone in the fish's stomach. He reached in and removed it. Much to his astonishment the fish spoke. "Boy. Take this precious thing to your Father and ask him what should be done with it."
The boy grimaced. And said, "But my Father is far away, hunting and won't be back for many, many days."
The fish replied, "You must go find him. Much depends on his seeing the stone."
Then the fish disappeared in a twinkling of blue light.
Knowing not what else to do the boy returned to his village and went to speak to the wisest of old men.
The old man was blind but often saw much more than those who could see because the visions that emerged from the depths of the abyss showed themselves on the back of his eyelids. Though he could not see the stone he could feel it, its life, its ancient wisdom.
The old man gasped and said to the boy. "You must go at once and find your father, before it is too late."
"What if I cannot find my father?" Asked the boy.
"You must. You must never turn from your task." Replied the wise man.
"Mother. I must go on a long journey to find father."
"I know Akawe Bezhig. This has been coming for many years, since you were born."
Akawe asked no more questions. He gathered all he needed for a long journey and set off that very moment with all the eyes of the village upon him. Their eyes were filled with wonder for they saw him as very young to embark on such a long and important journey. But none uttered a sound of farewell. It was so silent in fact the voice of a gentle breeze could be heard flitting among the autumn leaves.
Akawe crossed the river where he had seen the fish because it was the shallowest place and least dangerous to Forde, though a sudden rain could change that in a heartbeat. But the sky was clear and the boy was soon on the other bank.
The water rushing against his legs spoke of a cold building to the north and migrating south. This was the second sign of winter coming, the first being the paling of the leaves. By the next moon the world would be buried in its winter blanket and though it had its own beauty it also bore its treacheries.
"But I will surely find my Father before then and we will walk home together and I will have completed my task."
The days passed, each one shorter than the last, and each grew colder and the nights brought frost upon the paling grass. The wind upon the meadows bit into the skin on his cheeks and Akawe was glad when he finally delved into the forest where the trees broke the flow of the wind.
And the snow came, burying any signs of the trail his father and the hunters had left behind. Akawe now had to rely on his memory of stories he had been told about the hunting grounds what signs to look for to get there.
And the nights grew longer.
Day passed day and the nights waxed from new to full moon and waned back to dark moon. Akawe was running out of food so he was forced to spend much of his time hunting, losing precious days that should have been spent on searching for his father. And the moon cycled again and again, and again and......until Akwae lost count and things in him began to change. Things he had been told about and to expect, but he wished he was with the other boys who would share in this ritual of passage from boy to man.
His voice grew deep. Where once he could walk under low branches he now had to duck or walk around. Over time he had been forced to make new trappings for he had grown out of his childhood. And in all those years he had not seen another person, man, woman, child, hunter or his father. He began to wonder if he had not been sent on a fool's journey meant as a joke that never ended, until one day he at last came upon a hunting camp, a camp of the dead, a camp where he found his father.
Akawe removed the stone from his pouch and studied it for a long time, thinking, "I am too late. I took too long to find you Father, now I will never understand the meaning of the Stone."
But as he spoke his father gathered his body, transforming from its skeletal remains and appeared to is son whole and living.
"No Akawe Bezhig. You have arrived at just the right time."
"I do not understand. I came to save you I think but find you dead."
"Look at what you have found my son. See how we died. Then you will understand."
Akawe searched the camp. He found no meat, no hides, no food of any kind. The hunters had starved to death.
"Now you have seen our future, my son. Run like the wind to our village and warn our people that those who were seen coming in visions have arrived and our world will change. We shall starve."
Akawe Bezhig gazed mournfully at the shimmer image of his father. His heart wished him to weep but his years told him, grown men don’t cry. Then he remembered the blue stone and presented it to the spirit of his father.
The father’s hand reached out and touched it and his spirit was drawn into the stone.
What does this mean father? Asked Akawe, but no answer came and the glimmer of the stone faded so that it was a simple dull stone with a faded blue shadow.
Akawe tucked the stone back in his pouch and turned to head home, but in that moment he had no idea in which direction his village lay. He had travelled south and east and west and taken so many turns and crossed too many rivers and passed through untold reaches of forest in search of his father. Nonetheless he set out facing the cold for he knew his people were the children of the north
Leonard/ Lenny Smith never quite felt he belonged. He never understood why his eyes were blue, or why he was born an orphan. More importantly why his mother had left him to the wilds wrapped in nothing but a dirty, tattered blanket.
The note pinned to the blanket offered his finder but a single name to call him, Asiniiwin, Child Of The Stone.
She that rescued him, barely more than a girl was called Honoree Smith, who was as alone in the world as Lenny and it was her that gave him his common name.
She saw to all his needs providing him with food and shelter and most importantly, when he came of age, a place among other children and the opportunity to learn.
He was nine when the visions began, visions he saw as dreams, but a certain reach of reality as well. At first he spoke of them openly but it made other children laugh at him and adults chastise him for telling stories.
One day his teacher instructed the class to write a story. Lenny smiled because it gave him a place to relate his alter-reality.
His story began. “I was walking long the bank of a river one day and found a dying fish with a shiney blue stone in its belly.”
The truth was, he did think this was imagination, it felt more like a memory.
Then one day Lenny wandered away, leaving behind his common name and taking on the name written upon the note paper attached to his soiled and tattered blanket, which he took with him.
Why no one had noticed none will ever know but he found, also attached to the blanket a small pouch in which he found a small lusterless blue stone. And when he touched it all that had gone by centuries ago filled his mind.
At first, it frightened him because the visions were so real he could hardly separate them from the corporeal reality he inhabited.
Often he wondered, aimlessly it seemed, with n destination or purpose. It seemed he was ever in a haze, never quite here, or there or anywhere.
Then one day he found a quiet place along a river bank and sat by it and began to speak, his voice rich and echoing, near and distant, of time and out of time.
And he was not alone for there stood nearby a young man and spirit man who at that moment that Asiniiwin sat down turned their gaze on him.
“The spirit one spoke, “You have the stone. You know the future.”
Asiniiwin replied. “I am the future.”
“What do you see?”
Lenny Smith stood abruptly from his desk and rushed from the classroom. He ran as fast as he could to the place where he as a new born, wrapped in a soiled, tattered blanket was found. When he got there he moved ever so slowly about studying the earth, the roots of trees and among the red willow. He searched the banks of rivers and streams, even the smallest of brooks, though many were dry and vague memories of what they once were.
One day his aging mother, Honoree Smith came to him and asked, “What do you seek my Son?”
“Me.” Asiniiwin answered urgently.
“You have already been found my Son. I found you.”
“No Honoree Smith. I am not your son and all you found was this, a faded version of me.”
Honoree gazed long at the boy, studying him, trying desperately to understand the child’s delusions.
Tears rimmed her eyes and fell to the earth. Such sadness welled inside her heart began to break, but at that moment Asiniiwin cried out victoriously, his voice filled with joy startling Honoree out of her despair.
“What have you found Lenny?” Honoree asked acutely.
The boy turned his gaze upon her but said nothing for a long moment.
And there before her eyes the boy she had raised as her own grew from a child to an old man.
“Now it is I who is losing my mind.” She said wistfully.
The old man stood and moved toward her. When he stood before the woman he took her hands and spoke, but his voice was child-like.
“I must go back. I can save my people. That is what I was supposed to do, but in that distant past I failed. I am being given another chance.”
“No Lenny. You cannot, you must not. To change the past would destroy the present.”
“Yes, a present that is fell and evil. A present whose past destroyed our people.”
And in doing so you would destroy the people, your people here in the present.”
“Then what does all this mean. Why am I here? Why do I live in two times and two places.
“I have your answer my Son.”
“You have not failed Akawe Bezhig Asiniiwin.” The woman before him said warmly. “You have taken the path that one day will heal our people. But you must do so in the present for the past must ever remain the past. We can but learn from it and use our knowledge and wisdom to shape the future.”
It was a long and winding trail that Akawe travelled in search of his home. He was old when he came to the ruins of the village.
Wearily he made a fire and sat by it, staring into the flame and soon slipped out of life and stood at his father’s side for a moment.
“Have I failed father?” He asked.
“No my son. Your journey has just begun and in that moment, at his feet a child wrapped in a soiled, tattered blanket appeared.
Akawe reached in his pocket and found a small piece of strange material and a the nub of a pencil. Though he had no name for them he knew what to use them for. He wrote, Asiniiwin, and pinned the note to the blanket. Then he pinned his pouch that contained the blue stone to the blanket. Then his spirit merged with the infant's body and……...