by Robert B. Allen
The weight, the pressure, the pain. So many pressing down for
Will it ever end? Would I wish it to…?
For so many turnings of the seasons, existence was a joy. There
was no aching, for the weight was not great; there was no loneliness for
I reveled in growth. I could not imagine such painful feelings at the
beginning, but I would learn.
How could I have been so naïve? I wonder…
When the world was young, and the first others walked on the
land, I was born. Breaking through the growth of the land, wearing
paths in the soil, some on two legs, others with more.
Slowly, tentatively, they moved in the first days. Growing
braver and beginning to wander, they never knew I grew with them, my
length and breadth expanding where they explored. Across open lands and
rough terrain, they flowed. Nothing could stop them, not rain, nor ice,
nor burning sun. So brave, so curious they were in the beginning,
peering into every valley, canyon, and cave and across every plain. I
shared the joy in their exploration, sharing their exultation with each
new vista being revealed. My limbs in the first days had been weaving
and narrow and rough. With the passing of time, I grew wide and clear
as the two-legged ones learned to use the other creatures, the ones
with more legs, to help them make their way. I don't think any of them
ever noticing they were helping me grow.
Would they have acknowledged me if they did?
Then suddenly, in the blink of an age, the new others came: great heavy beasts of rushing metal and burning heat, heedless
of the pain they inflicted with their fervent gait, their mad dashing
tearing holes and rending grooves in my being with their power and
fury, their insane pace leaving neither them nor the slow-moving ones
they now carried time to explore, to see the flow of the world around
them. I grieve for what they have lost, for the loss of their pastoral
past, their joy and wonder. I would show them again, as I did for so
long, if they would only see. The answer of how eludes me, though I
have thought on the question long.
How do I show them what they have lost—what we have lost?
Sometimes the great beasts and the others work together, joining their strength to expand my reach into new places, even as it
fades in others. I grieve for the ways forgotten, lost, and overgrown,
and the joys discovered along them.
Why did they abandon those golden paths?
There have been other times, times when the great beasts and
the others join to help me heal. But often it seems only after they
have done me great damage or when the earth or rain or ice have moved
and broken me. Perhaps that is their way of making amends for the pain
If they know I am here… if they knew I was here, would they
speak to me I wonder?
But those times when the land shifts and moves, then they come
to my aid—so they are not without compassion. Still, why do they not
speak to me?
Could they be so callous in their majesty?
And their sadness and loss, I feel to my core. When they
falter and fail, there is pain—for the great beasts, for the others
and for me. I feel the agony each and every time they crumble and die.
Just as I do when my limbs are no longer of worth to them… lost…
Do they feel my hurting as I feel theirs?
My loneliness is devastating, if only they would truly see me
underfoot. Perhaps then I could find my joy, find our joy again.
There have been occasions, when I met others like me.
Foolishly, I thought my loneliness was at an end. Each time I felt the
ecstasy of companionship, of sharing, for a brief flashing instant. But
then we joined, and I was one. Alone again. The two legs and beasts
have others, why don’t I?
Where did my others go?
From great water to great water, from mountain to desert, I
reach now. Watching, waiting, wondering will I ever find another me?
How to ask the others and the beasts if they know the answer?
Would they tell me if they know?
The question gnaws, but how to get their attention when they
don't seem to know I am here? My cries go unheeded, my questions
unanswered, my sorrow ignored. Maybe if I stretched and waved they
would notice I was here…
Am I brave enough to find out? To explore something new? To be
brave like they were, taking those first steps so long ago…?
© 2017 Robert B. Allen
Robert B. Allen's short fiction has previously appeared in Phantaxis Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine. More than this, he does not say.