The History of Things
By G. martinez cabrera
The boy looked up, and this is what the clouds told him:
That radio antenna over to the left, the giant metal X of Twin Peaks stuck firmly to the hilltop was no antenna. It was once alive—a being raising his hands into the fog. And Kezar’s stadium light that the boy’s father was always complaining was too bright, was in another life, a flower whose petals gave off petals that glowed in the darkness. People wouldn’t believe the boy when he told them what the clouds had told him, but that didn’t bother him. Even though he was young, he knew there would always be doubters.
So he listened to the clouds, and they told him this as well:
The world was once very different. It was not unusual to be thankful, to call out to the heavens from the highest peak and smile. But even back then, long before men and women walked the Earth, there was already Jealousy. At that time, Jealousy actually roamed the Earth instead of people’s hearts. This Jealousy was constant and, contrary to common opinion, not green at all.
Jealousy looked on at all the happy beings in the world, and true to his nature, the happier and the more thankful they were, the more his chest ached. That was the way Jealousy thought of the feeling, but it wasn’t pain. There was just something in his heart that he couldn’t control. People nowadays don’t get it: the fact that Jealousy did not mean to hurt anyone. He was just the way he was.
After years and years, as this feeling at the center of him grew, Jealousy finally couldn’t take it any longer. He went away and hid himself in a deep, dark cave, though no one is sure where that cave is now, and he cut his chest open and took out the frozen hunk that was his heart.
What came next was instant. There was no vegetation left for miles and miles around the cave—only white powder and weeds and twigs were left. The land, it seemed, was becoming sad. And that cold sadness kept pouring down through the world, spreading out in waves from Jealousy’s cave. The effect was that all those creatures, like what we now call an antenna and a stadium light, beings who were once alive and happy and who gave thanks to the world, now were lifeless. And they were not the only ones. Skyscrapers became skyscrapers. Bridges became bridges. In each case, all these beings lost their capital letter to a lower-case death.
“But then, how did we come to be?” the boy asked the clouds.
The answer was not a good one. “You are the descendants of Jealousy,” the clouds told the boy. “For you see when Jealousy removed his heart, his blood flowed and combined with the sadness of the Earth, and out of that came you.”
The boy wept at hearing this, and the clouds came together and tried to make pictures in the sky that would make him feel better. They became cotton candy and clowns smiling, and knights on horses and giant fluffy birds, but the boy could not be consoled, and he wept until he had nothing left in him except the awareness that the things around him were more than mere things.
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G. martinez cabrera currently lives in San Francisco with his wife. When he’s not spending time with said wife or writing, he tortures young people with learning. He lives electronically at www.thehistoryofthings.com and blogs regularly at http://circularrunning.wordpress.com.
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