Monday, March 2, 2009

The Winner

The dark figure stood in the field of rippling wheat. A shadow mark upon the face of the golden landscape, it stood as still as the earth it was upon. And the figure’s face turned to the northern sky as the first flash lit up the heavens. The visage of an old, leathery faced man peering at the distant sky where the storm was boiling.

He had stood there before, many times before, as he faced and weathered the storms of the plains. He knew how they came, how they raged, how they left. He could foresee the coming cloud mountains, dark behemoths riding upon each other’s backs. He could almost smell the crackle of the lightning as it rippled through the heavens.

He planted his lithe, muscular figure firmly in the middle of the field, drawing strength from the bedrock far beneath the ground. He was a titan. An ancient titan of the earth, born of the rock and raised by the stone. He had more dirt in his veins than blood. He stood defiantly facing the storm as it approached nearer and nearer.

His grey green eyes fell upon his small field of wheat, heads of corn bobbing and swaying in rhythmic motion to the warm gust of air. Somehow, with the swaying wheat and the greenish hue of the sky overhead he felt as if he was underwater. He swayed slightly with the tumbling waves of wind then caught himself. He steadied himself firmer in the field. His eyes didn’t leave the approaching wall of purple and black now. He was intent on standing, no matter what.

The storm came. It howled and raged and beat and blew and thundered across the great plain. The old leathery tan man raised bone worked hands to the sky as the warm winds whipped his long grey hair around his face. The rains then came, drenching the world in the warm late summer rains. Large drops fell and splashed and ran down the old man’s skin onto the dusty ground.

Soon the solid figure, yelling and raising his fists to the heavens, was beginning to slip in the mud. It began ever so slightly, bit by bit, as his footing was lost. The lightning peeled overhead its victory cry as the storm continued to batter the old titan. But even as he fell into the mud, he raised his head up from it and cursed the storm. And he stood once more and cried out once more and the very waters that had threatened to overcome him now washed away the filth.

But he did not seem to notice the filth. For he was, after all, a son of the dust and a man of the mud. Even as his feet sunk deeper he sat stronger and drew his strength from the firm earth itself. And the storm grew weary, its thunder died down. The rains stopped as suddenly as it had started, and the clouds rolled on past the little field.

The old man pulled his legs from the sucking mud, already drying from the sun playing between the clouds. He turned around and gave a loud crow of victory to surrounding emptiness. Then he turned in his victory and surveyed his empty field of battle.

The wheat had been flattened and had left empty patches around him. Some places the mud had claimed all of the crop, but others still stood as strong and firm as him. He smiled as he looked at them, seeing future hardier, stronger crops in their seeds that would abide the empty world much better.

Then the old man walked back to his home, his empty little shack. The roof was near caving in, the walls were all bent and buckled. The bent door hanging on one hinge opened into the empty room with the empty bed and the empty table set with three places, three empty places. The old man walked and sat down in one and leaned back.

He had done it. He had weathered the storm. He had stood his ground. He had been victorious and now he could enjoy the sweet fruits of victory. He gazed around at the empty room, and felt sorry for it. No room should be left bare and alone, he thought. So he walked across the bare floor to the empty bed and lay down wearily. He was the winner. He was the winner. I am the winner, he thought.

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