The Land of Sleeping Rocks – A Short Story

Every morning the boy stared at the ocean. Once all he could see was the water, but now the boy saw other things.

A sailor with one leg had told the boy there were other lands than the island he called home. Lands with rocks that sleep and birds that speak. Before this conversation with the traveler the boy knew the island of his birth was not the entire world, but he was not aware of it. Now to the boy the horizon was not an end, but a beginning.

The boy took one step into the water. “What are you doing?” The girl asked him.

“I am leaving this place.”

“Why would you do that?” she asked. “Do we not have everything we need here? Trees that feed us, lagoons to swim, sunshine to keep us warm, our families, our friends…?”

“We do not have rocks that sleep, nor birds that speak. There are no dragons that breathe fire nor women with tails of fish.”

“We do not need those things.”

“I do.”

“Oh,” she said sadly.

The boy had known the girl longer than he could could remember and he wished not to see her hurt. “You could come with me.”

“No, I can not.”

“Then I will bring you back a sleeping rock.”

“That will be nice,” she said. Those were their parting words before the boy dove into the ocean.

He swam further than he ever had before. Past the breakers, through the crashing waves, beyond the reefs that were home to the fish. He swam until his arms ached and then he kept swimming. The sun rose and set and was then followed by the moon. The sea was more vast than he ever imagined. Its tides were unrelenting, but he found the strength to keep kicking. He had a promise to keep. He told the girl he would bring her a sleeping rock. He would look foolish if he failed.

As day turned into another day and then yet another he saw a dot. It became a hope and then a glimmer and then a certainty. It was land. He stroked with all the force he could muster and let the water do the rest. Then he tumbled into a sandy beach. The boy put his hands into the ground and pushed himself up. His knees nearly buckled, but he took one step after another to see a bed of sleeping rocks.

The boy picked up a stone. It did not move in the slightest. The boy figured it was a sound sleeper. Before the boy could examine it further a bird with feathers of the rainbow perched next to him. The bird stared at him. Was this the bird that spoke?

The boy asked him, “Where am I?”

To which the bird replied, “Where am I?”

The boy stepped closer to continue the conversation, but the movement scared the bird. It flew away as quickly as it arrived.

This was a spectacular place, one beyond the boy’s imagination. But still the boy’s heart was heavy. He had spoken to the most amazing bird, but there was no one else to witness it. No one to make certain it was not ill effects from his day at sea that was speaking to him. Perhaps if someone else was there he would not have behaved so rashly. The girl, for instance, was smart. She would have advised him to proceed cautiously. Maybe then the bird would have shared stories from the sky. Fortunately he still had the sleeping rock which he put in his pocket for safe keeping.

The boy walked along the coast. As far away as he was, this new land seemed eerily similar to his old one.

He heard footsteps. The man with one leg had warned him not all foreigners were friendly. There were pirates and cannibals out there.

The boy dove into the brush. He tried his best to stay hidden, but was too tired to keep still. He took out the rock and shook it with all his might. An awakened rock would surely scare off any villains. But it was no stranger he faced, it was the girl.

“You are back!” she said. She hugged him strongly.

The tides the boy realized were stronger than he estimated. They had taked him in a circle. “Yes, I am back.”

“We were worried you would not return.”

“Of course I came back. I promised, didn’t I? Here….” He handed her the present. “It is a sleeping rock.”

“Oh, why thank you,” she said as she wondered if all the rocks on their beach were also sleeping.

The boy was too tired to move. Meanwhile the girl was occupied inspecting him. So it took them both by surprise when they heard a yawn and then a cry. The rock was awake and it wanted something to eat.

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