Author's Note: An explanation for the insanity that is about to follow is required. In this preface I will explain the grammatical rules for the mid sentence POV shifts I employ here and the main idea that prompted me to write this. In addition to this, I also which to note that I deliberately change POV within the same paragraph, I have simplified these cases into separate paragraphs or into POV-switching sentences whenever I thought necessary.
1) Grammar Rules: The Mid-sentence POV shift is notated by a vertical line (which looks like this: |) and must always be surrounded on wither side by the original Point of view of the sentence. POV may also change from paragraph to paragraph or within paragraphs from sentence to sentence, though I discourage this.
2) Theme: The main preoccupation with this story can be summarized as follows: what if the characters in a story had intents differing from those of the Author? I won't go into any more detail, as to leave the reader free to develop their own interpretations free from the authors influence, but I leave this idea here for the review to keep in mind when formulating their opinions on the effectiveness of this piece of work.
Work begins here:
Between the stones—————————————————
You come upon two cleaved apart stones at midday. They are in the middle of a field greened from the spring | I thought of looking back at the forest from which I had come | you do not look back, but keep your eyes forward at the cleft in the stone, the stones are tall and are like dual sundials, casting their overlapping shadows on the field. It dawned suddenly upon me then that I had no recollection of passing through a forest | you have no need for a memory of something beyond the forest; you walk forward | In my confusion, I barely noticed my legs moving me through the cleft in the stones towards the greater cleft in the distant mountains. You move with unceasing purpose away from the forest and the stones towards the mountains | as I moved towards the mountains, I began to feel as if there was something slipping away with the forest, like the tendrils of a dream | you continue away from the forest; there is nothing for you there.
Despite my best efforts, I found myself unable to change my course. As I walked, I tried to penetrate the haze of my memory before the forest | you try and remember what lay before the forest, but any coherent recollection eludes you | I tried harder, straining to grasp something out of the fog. Finally, an image came to me: it was of a muddy path lined by trees that arched overhead, painting everything in shadow | as quickly as it came, your memory slips away | I could sense my determination morphing into desperation as the image dissolved, like sand into water. There must be something more! There must! I thought. You stop to rest as night comes. You lay upon the cool, soft grass but you do not sleep | I closed my eyes and wait for sleep to come | you do not sleep.
My dream was mine and it was of a small village built on the banks of a packed-earth road, cloaked in the strange shadows of twilight. I turned around and there were young boys—neither more than ten—standing outside a low house talking to a woman.
“When will daddy be back?” The younger of the two asked.
“I don’t know, James.” The woman said.
“Daddy usually goes on walks, doesn’t he?” The older of the two chipped in.
“I’ve checked the rout he usually takes, but I couldn’t find him—I—I,” the woman’s voice caught and she began to cry “I don’t know where daddy is, I—”
“Mary?” I said as I walked towards the woman. I knew the name—she was my wife: the woman who had shared my bed for fifteen years. She turned around and rushed towards me. She knocked out my breath as she wrapped her arms around me.
“Daddy!” Both of my sons shouted in unison.
We went inside and had a small dinner. After Mary and I had put the children to sleep she took me back to the main room of the house where she pulled one of the stools away from under see the table, sat down, and asked:
“Why did you go? I’ve done my best to come up with a reason but I can’t—I just don’t understand.” I pulled out a stool and sat across from her.
“I don’t know either, but I promise you I won’t do it again.” She smiled. We stood up and embraced.
“It’s time for bed, love.” She said as she pushed her stool back under the table. I did the same and we walked to our bedroom.
“I know you’ll be working overtime at the mill tomorrow, but promise me you won’t be anywhere else.” Mary said when we had gotten into bed.
“I promise,” I said.
Mary was still asleep when I woke the next morning. I dressed myself, had a small breakfast, and went for a walk. My usual route took me down the center of the town and then around its perimeter, but today something drove me down a different path, off the packed-dirt road and towards the forest. My thoughts became more fragmented as I entered the forest and by the time I came to the other side, where two stones stood alone in the center of a field.
I shot up from the grass and began to weep, straining for my dream | as the sun rises, your dream slips away from you, you forget it | After a few moments the dream slipped away. I continued forward, wondering why I had been crying.
You pass that day in silence, admiring the empty land as you walk. When I came to the valley it was night | you lay upon the ground, but cannot find sleep | eventually I slept. In the moment of clarity before I woke fully I knew I had had another dream of my past. As quickly as the clarity had come, it left.
By midday I had come in sight of a large town | you find a cobblestone road and follow it into the town; it is busy and people swarm about, but one person catches your eye | I found my eyes upon a woman; she was tall with a humble look about her | you walk up to this woman and greet her; you ask her where you might rest | I watched the woman as she thought for a moment.
“I think I know of a place—do you have money?” She asks. You think for a moment, then put a hand into your pocket. You feel coins. You nod. “Okay, that makes things easier, I could have called in a favor if I needed to, but I try to save those until I really need them. Just follow me.”
“Thank you for helping me,” I said, following her through the crowd “I’m new around here,” I explained. It seemed such a paltry summary, but she wouldn’t have believed me if I told her the truth.
“It’s fine,” she said, “I didn’t really have anything else to do today—I guess I was just looking for something to do.” We stopped in front of a three story building topped by a peaked roof. “Here we are.” She said.
You both reach out for the doorknob and your hand brushes against hers | my hand recoiled as if I had touched a piece of red hot piece of metal | the woman blushes as you mutter half coherent apologies. She opened the door awkwardly and led me inside. The inn was quiet this time of day: only a few people sat around the room. The woman diverts your attention by lightly touching your hand | I started and turned around | you look at the innkeeper in silence for a few moments, listening to the rise and fall of the woman’s voice as she recounts to him what little information you told her.
“So,” the innkeeper’s voice jolted me out of my reverie, “you want a room?” I nodded as he brought out his guest book and placed it on his desk with a thud “how long?”
“I’m not sure—a while, though,” You answer “however much this’ll pay for,” you take the coins out of your pocket and place them on the table. Seven large gold coins lay on the desk in a semicircle.
“That should pay for about two weeks,” the innkeeper said as he took an inkwell and a quill out from under the desk and placed them next to the guestbook “name?” He asked.
“John.” You say after thinking for a moment.
“Alright then, your room should be on the second floor: third door on the left.”
“Thank you.” I said.
“I’ll lead you to your room.” The woman says to you.
“Thank you.” You say. You follow her up.
“So why’d you come to this town?” The woman asked as she led me up a set of stairs near the back of the main room, “I know this is a big town, but I’ve seen most of the people here at least once, and you’re not one I remember.”
“I’m not sure why I’m here” I answered. She might be able to help me figure out how to get back to wherever I came from | You dismiss the thought, you decide to stay a while | “do you know anywhere I could find work?” I asked. I had a feeling I wouldn’t be leaving soon.
“Sure,” the woman answered “the inns are always looking for workers, if not there then there’s the mills.” I nodded, when she mentioned mills something turned in my mind | the half-formed image slips away from you quicker than it came | I realized I had stopped. The woman was looking at me with worried eyes.
“I’m fine.” you say, and follow her down the hallway to your room. You both reach for the doorknob again, this time you halt and let her open the door. You notice she is blushing.
I followed her into my new room. Most of the meager space was taken up by a bed with a desk pushed flush against its right side and a large chest set against the back wall.
“I never got your name.” You say as the woman turns to leave.
“I’m Ranalia, most people call me Rani, though.” the woman says.
“I’m John,” you say, “perhaps we can meet up again tomorrow?” You ask. Ranalia nods slowly.
“I guess, it would have to be later though—I work tomorrow.” She tells you. You nod and watch her as she leaves, pulling the door shut behind her.
After Rani left I laid down on the bed | as you lay there, unsleeping, you contemplate your feelings for the woman | I wondered what it was that kept the image of her in my mind. As I thought about it, something churned in the back of my mind; I tried to reach for it | the image slips away it fully forms in your mind, every time you try to grasp it it eludes you | I sighed and fell asleep.
My dream tonight was different: I was walking in a forest I did not know. When I tried to turn around to return the way I had come my body did nothing. I tried to turn my head, but it remained fixed, staring forward. I watched with swiftly mounting horror as my body marched forward of its own accord. I would have been weeping by the time I emerged from the forest. I found myself in a field, empty save for the two stones in front of me. They reminded me of a try that had been split apart by frost. That memory brought a torrent on me and if I had been able to cry I would have renewed my sobs. I was overwhelmed by the memories crashing upon me: walks with my wife around the town where I had lived—walks with my children—the frigid day a tree split and nearly fell on our house. I’ll never see any of you again. I spent my final dreaming moments wallowing in hopelessness.
When I woke I felt tears cold against my face. More tears followed them as I began to weep—I didn’t care if the people in other rooms heard the choking wails that made my body tremble. Then I realized I still knew why I was crying. I launched myself out of bed. There was some paper and a pen on the desk. I staggered towards the desk. It was still dark out but I still managed to keep my writing relatively neat as I frantically scrawled out an explanation to my future self. The daylight had come. In my final lucid moments I prayed the ink on the paper was dry and shoved the sheet into my pocket.
You shake off whatever nightmare catapulted you out of bed. I wiped the tears off my face, wondering how they got there, I remembered clearly for a moment—long enough to remember what I needed to do with the paper in my pocket—before my memory slips away. You try to remember, but find you have forgotten all of the night before now and the day, save for your promise to the woman to meet her | I remembered the woman, and I found myself eager to see her again | you leave your room. You get a small breakfast before you leave in search of a job.
You find a job at a mill near the edge of town. You are surprised by your familiarity with the job. At midday your shift ends.
When I made it back to the inn I saw Rani waiting at the door. Her round face was framed by loose strands of brown hair that had found their way over her shoulders.
“Hi,” you say. The woman nods awkwardly as you open the door. “How was your day?” you ask. The woman shrugs | we were silent as we found seats at one of the tables | when you sit down, you wait for the woman’s response.
“It was fine—no better than yesterday, no worse, either.” Rani answered.
Conversation is slow to come and quick to leave, but eventually you become more comfortable. After perhaps two hours you both are talking freely.
“So where are you from?” I asked.
“I was born here.” Rani said “I grew up here, learned to write and read, though honestly I think I’ve forgotten all but the basics of both, I just don’t need to know it.” After a moment she asked: “where’re you from?” I looked down at the table as I thought | nothing comes to mind as you try to remember your origins | I sighed and shook my head.
“I...I can’t remember.” I said. Rani shrugged.
“It’s not important, I mean, you’re here now, what use is mulling the past over?” I nodded, I did my best to let her words console me, but I struggled to convince myself she was right. Rani looked out the window. I followed her gaze and was surprised to see it was getting dark out. “Oh!” she exclaimed, “I have to go, see you tomorrow?” She asked as she stood.
You nod and say your goodbyes before going up to your room. As you walk, you are unable to stop thinking of the woman. Her face is the last thing you see before you fall asleep. This routine continues for days that compound into months and years. Eventually you and the woman marry, and you live your life peacefully, never thinking again of the two parted stones.
Though I never thought of it during the day, I would always dream of what lay beyond that forest whenever I laid next to my wife and closed my eyes. And in the moments after the daylight had swept away my dream, when I would look at that paper where I had scrawled all I could before forgetting, I would wonder how much I had lost when I reached those cleaved apart stones.