Stone Telling

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To the Creature

by Gillian Daniels

To the Creature from his master, left coded in the air and on the wind:

I have left you alone much too long
but am only sorry that you were lonely.
In the years you have wandered over forest brambles,
slept in tree hollows, and picked icicles from your fur,
you have grown stronger in solitude.
My love for you may have changed in your absence,
but it has not diminished.
Come home and sleep by the hearth.

To his master from the Creature, carved in the cypress tree by the river:

I have prayed to be welcomed back,
nights with my eyes glassed over with tears,
teeth gnashing to dine on your flesh,
but I have no more home with you.

To the Creature from his master, drawn on the surface of the river:

It was selfish to send you away.

To his master from the Creature, scratched in the wood of the former's house:

It was cruel to send me away.
It is selfish to ask me back again
because your wife has left
and a magician fears the company of his own thoughts.

To the Creature from his master, scratched on every autumn leaf of the forest:

I am sorry.
I am alone.
I am sorry.
I am alone.

To his master from the Creature, carved along the door jambs of his house:

Do you mean you are sorry to be alone?

To the Creature from his master, written on a single river stone:

How did you know she had left?

To his master from the Creature and his master's wife, written in two hands:

We debate the depth of your sorrow over our loss,
but not its sincerity.
Speak to us in person with your rough magician's heart
so we may judge how strong you have grown in solitude.
Our love for you is changed but not diminished.
Come and eat with us at our table.
The tree hollow we nest in is small but sweet with the smell of tree sap
and has a place for you by the hearth.

Gillian Daniels writes, works, and haunts the streets and parks of Boston, MA.  Since attending the 2011 Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop, her poetry and short fiction have appeared in Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Electric Velocipede, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Flash Fiction Online, and PodCastle among others.  She reviews plays and concerts for The New England Theatre Geek and tweets on a fairly consistent basis as @gilldaniels.

Photography: adapted from Hollow Tree, by Harsh Patel.