The boy who drew in the.., p.1
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       The Boy Who Drew In The Mud and other parables, p.1
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The Boy Who Drew In The Mud and other parables
The Boy Who Drew in the Mud

  and other parables

  Zachary Harper

  Published by Zachary Harper

  Copyright 2010 Zachary Harper

  Discover other titles by Zachary Harper at

  The Boy Who Drew In The Mud

  There once was a boy who drew in the mud. Now, this was quite an ordinary boy, and his drawings were of nothing in particular, and of no significant artistry. Nonetheless, the boy would, as often as he could escape from the various chores and homework everyone seemed to enjoy giving him, spend hours with a stick, or maybe just his fingers, or occasionally a carrot or bit of celery he had smuggled into his pocket to avoid eating, drawing and drawing in the big patch of mud on the edge of his backyard, near the garden his neighbor had.

  Now, this neighbor was quite an ordinary neighbor, and like all quite ordinary neighbors, was particularly nosy in matters he had no business being nosy in, and not nearly nosy enough in matters he well should have been nosy about. So this neighbor would watch the young boy drawing in the mud all afternoon long as the sky was starting to darken and the clouds were starting to build and blacken like a cloud of ash in a small room, and he would yell from his porch where he sat, “Boy! Why do you draw in the mud? It will just be washed away when the rain comes in, and you will be left with nothing!” But the boy would just look at him with those big brown child-eyes, give a half-hearted shrug, and return to his scribbling. And when the rain came, the boy would sit and watch as it washed away, and the neighbor would shout “Boy! What did I tell you! Now you must start from the beginning!” But the boy would just look at him with those big brown child-eyes, and give a big grin, and return to his watching.

  For as long as the neighbor could remember, this would happen every time it would rain. Yet never did the boy tire of the game; he would draw, and watch as it would wash away. And the neighbor thought, “This boy must be mad! There is no reason why he should so enjoy all his work and all his effort wasting away into the ground. Why, it is quite unnatural! Next time, I will go right up to the boy and drag him away from his mud, and I will explain to him exactly how these things should be done! With a pencil and clean sheet of paper, or maybe a scrap of charcoal from my fireplace! Yes, I will teach him how to draw properly, on proper things!”

  So the next time he walked out on his porch and saw the boy drawing in the mud, he marched his way to where the boy stood, puffed out his chest, and looked straight down his nose, saying “Boy! You come with me right now! This is quite unnatural. Let us go get a pencil and a clean sheet of paper, or maybe a scrap of charcoal from my fireplace, and I will teach you how to draw properly, on proper things!” But the boy just looked at him with those big brown child-eyes, and shook his head. The neighbor, being, like all ordinary neighbors, quite stubborn, stomped his little dress shoe on the grass and said, “You must be mad! There is no reason for you to enjoy all your work and effort wasting away into the ground!” But the boy just looked at him with those big brown child-eyes, and gave a big smile, and said, “Wait one moment.”

  The boy pointed down to the patch of mud where had been busy drawing an immense battle, with giants on one side with massive raised clubs, and knights on stick-horses with big pointed lances guarding little stick-princesses wearing pointy stick-hats. And a dragon with a long, curly neck was busy breathing fire on a bunch of little stick-peasants, while a bunch of stick-centaurs surrounded it from all sides, pointy bows and pointy arrows flying all about. As a big clap of thunder resounded about the yard, the neighbor said, “I am too late! This will be ruined, and you must start from the beginning!”

  Then it began to rain.

  The entire drawing seemed to stir to life as the water ran across it in sheets, and the trickles and streams of rain through the fluid mud breathed movement into all the figures. The knights were suddenly charging and the giants swinging their clubs down as the princesses swooned and fell to the floor. The dragons fire jetted about, and the peasants collapsed in terror, as the centaurs rode in circles, wildly shooting. Armies clashed and lovers met, and some men ran away like cowards, while others rode forth into death and fame. The scene swayed about, and, like a play, all the figures did their part. And the boy and the neighbor watched together, wordless, with big grins on their faces.

  The Gem

  There once was a man with little to love. Not that he was particularly lonely, mind you. Nor was he a bore. No, this man simply had not yet found something to set his heart and hopes aflame. For he was a picky man, and he knew your heart can only burn brightest once, and that if you let your hopes turn to ash, few men find a phoenix to rise from them.

  So he was a careful man, and he lived in careless times, for many men lost all that was most precious to them. So this man was a careful man.

  He once vacationed out on a mountain side, and though the wilderness pleased him, he vacationed there more because it made him miss the city then that the city made him miss the wilderness. He would watch a sunrise through the peaks and see the clouds roll across the deep valley like smoke from a thousand cannons, and he would smile and be content with his tiny home on a busy street.

  But one day, as he walked down a streambed lately dried when the clouds were empty and left too little water in this place and too much in another, he spied a beautiful gem amidst the soft dirt where once a dozen fish had made their homes. His eyes lit up and his soul stirred and stared, and he couldn't look away. He loved the gem, and it was good.

  The man took the gem home, and held it tight in his hand. When he was sad, he would feel it in his palm, and when he was happy he would roll it across his knuckles, and he wished to never lose it.

  As we said, he was a careful man, and he lived in careless times, and as he thought more and more about it, he became filled with a worry deep in his stomach, and it grew every day and terrified him, and soon he could only clench his gem hard in his fist, and never let go. Finally, he asked his neighbor, a good but careless man, what he could do to ease his worry.

  "Well, if you hold them gem in your hand, the ground could trip you and you could drop it. Or a man could shake your hand and steal it. Or you could fall asleep and lose it. Such things are common these days. Instead, you should keep it in your pocket, for then it would be safe, and you could ease your worry."

  So the man began to keep the gem in his pocket. When he was sad he would gently touch it, and when he was happy, he would roll it between his fingers, and he wished to never lose it.

  But after some time, he again began to worry, and always he was nervous and would sweat like it was summer, and his mind would never cease running to and fro like a small child, and soon he could only push his palm tight to his pocket, and never let go. Finally, he asked his professor, a good but careless man, what he could do to ease his worry.

  "Well, if you keep the gem in your pocket, a hole could form and you could drop it. Or a man could distract you and steal it. Or you could wash your pants and lose it. Such things are common these days. Indeed, you should buy a chain and keep it around your neck, for then it would be safe, and you could ease your worry."

  So the man bought a chain and kept it around his neck. When he was sad he would press it to his heart, and when he was happy it would beat against his chest, and he wished to never lose it.

  But after some time, he again began to worry, and always he was tense, and to leave his home would fill him with such terror that his muscles felt as if he had run a thousand miles, and soon all he could do was hold his hand hard to his neck and never let go. Finally, he asked his bishop, a good and careful man, what he could do to ease the worry.

  "Well, if
you keep the gem on a chain, the rain could rust it and you could drop it. Or a man could rob you and steal it. Or you could forget to clasp it well and lose it. Such things are common these days. Indeed, you should swallow it, for then it would be safe, and you could ease your worry."

  "But bishop!" cried the man, "How will I be able to enjoy its beauty if I swallow it? How can I feel it when I am sad, and grasp it when I am happy? I wish to love it, not swallow it!"

  "Well," answered the bishop, "when you clenched it hard in your first, you were swallowing it. And when you pushed your palm tight to your pocket, you were swallowing it. And when you held your hand hard to your neck, you were swallowing it. You are right to say that you cannot love something you have swallowed, but if you do not swallow it, there is naught you can do to keep it safe from all things. Truly, one can only love something one can lose."

  So the man went home, and whenever he was grew terrified and grasped his gem too tightly, he remembered the bishops words, and loved it instead of swallowed it. And as he grew older, he worried less and less, for he loved it too much to lose it easily.

  The Star That Fell

  based on a story by five-year old Jenna

  Once upon a time, for all good stories begin as such, there was a cat, a dog, and a goose who all played together in the fields that sprawled out behind the village farms. The hills rolled and rumbled as far as their tiny eyes could see, and the cat would stretch out in the soft corn-husks while the dog bounded about digging up the black soil and the goose would flap his big wings and fly about as close to the ground as his courageous little heart would let him.

  One night, as the stars began to wink down at the village homes and the sun yawned and settled down in bed behind the distant mountains, the cat looked up into the fading sky and saw a single star straighten itself, take a step forward, and slowly fall into the fields where the cat daily lazed. Quite excited, the cat ran down the street to where the dog and goose were having themselves a late night drink, saying "Come with me! A star has become bored of the night sky and has fallen to our fields to play with us!"

  So the trio rushed out, down the dusty roads, past the little farmhouse with the leaky roof, through the thicket of wild weeds, and out into the field. In a patch of corn-husks that the cat had gathered together but a few hours earlier lay a bright little star, glowing as white as his brothers above, and as tiny as a rose-petal.

  The cat scooped it up in her paws, and the star was as cool as fresh mountain water. No, not like a witches brew, but cool and light and bright and beautiful as a diamond! And the dog said, "Friends! We should take the star and bury it in the black soil and grow a star-tree in this very field!" But the goose flapped his big wings and replied, "No! We should fly up to the sky and plug the star into its hole, lest the rest of the stars fall too!"

  The cat thought, and though she would love to grow a tree that bloomed stars, and though she didn't want all the other stars to fall as well and leave the night dark and terrifying, she said, "If this star has come such a long way, he must have a reason. No doubt someone called for him, and he fell, but was lost on his way down! Now someone is missing a star, and we should try and find them! Should we fail, then we may do what we will with this tiny gem, but let us first seek the stars owner." And because they were all three good at heart, they set out to find whoever had lost a star.

  They first went to the thicket of weeds and found the mole, for he had many holes where he kept many things, and perhaps he wanted a star to put in his collection.

  "Mr. Mole!" they cried, "Have you lost anything?"

  "Indeed I have," replied the mole, and the cat hurried forward, star in paw. "I have lost my glasses, and I cannot see! Have you perchance found them?" Sadly, the cat shook her head. "No, we have found only a star. But we will keep an eye out for your glasses, and will certainly bring them back if we see them."

  They then went to the little farmhouse with the leaky roof and found the horse, for he had a barn with two whole rooms where he kept many things, and perhaps he wanted a star to put in his collection.

  "Mr. Horse!" they cried, "Have you lost anything?"

  "Indeed I have," replied the horse, and the cat hurried forward, star in paw. "I have lost my shoes, and I cannot run! Have you perchance found them?" Sadly, the dog shook his ears. "No, we have found only a star. But we will keep an eye out for your shoes, and will certainly bring them back if we see them."

  They then went to the dusty road and found the squirrel, for he had many things in many places, and perhaps he wanted a star to put in his collection.

  "Mr. Squirrel!" they cried, "Have you lost anything?"

  "Indeed I have," replied the squirrel, and the cat hurried forward, star in paw. "I have lost my nutcracker, and I cannot eat! Have you perchance found it?" Sadly, the goose shook his long neck. "No, we have found only a star. But we will keep an eye out for your nutcracker, and will certainly bring it back if we see it."

  Unable to find who the star had been for, all three went with their heads down back towards the field where the lost star has landed. But as they passed the edge of the evergreen forest, a great dark something lumbered out into the road and let out a terrifying roar that would scare any of us who are not meant to be heroes. But the cat was brave, and the dog was brave, and the goose was hard of hearing and sight, and was also a little brave, and all three approached it. And by the light of the star in the cats paw, the great dark something was no more than a giant pumpkin-head with scary cut eyes and a jagged mouth.

  "Mr. Pumpkin!" they cried, "Have you lost anything?"

  "Indeed I have," replied the pumpkin, and the cat hurried forward, star in paw. "I have lost a star, and it cost me very much to buy it from the moon." Happily, all three friends rushed forward. "Here it is, Mr. Pumpkin! We found it in the field!"

  "So you have! It is so kind of you to bring it to me! I have found many things while looking for this star, and I have kept them in case I had to buy another star, but your kindness and braver have made it all unnecessary, so you may take all I have found!"

  The pumpkin pulled out the squirrel's nutcracker, and the horse's shoes, and the mole's glasses, and gave them to the dog to carry on his thick shoulders. And the pumpkin placed his star in his mouth and lit up as bright as the sun, and no longer looked dark and scary, but looked as any jack-o-lantern should!

  So they returned all the lost belongings, and the squirrel could eat, and the horse could run, and the mole could see again. Though the dog wished he had a star-tree, and though the goose always looked up afraid the sky was crumbling down, all three knew they had done the right thing, and any falling stars would safely find their owners as long as they were alive.

  The No-Boy

  a story for Jenna and Braden

  There once was a very naughty boy, and always his mother asked him to help around the house, or pull a few weeds from the garden, or chop some trees for the fire, and always the little boy said "No." But the mother loved him dearly, for her husband was off in a war, and she didn't want the little boy to become too sad, and so she would do much of the work.

  Now, the cottage where they lived was at the edge of a forest where many things live that we don't see often anymore. At their particular edge lived some very mischievous pixies, who liked nothing else than to play tricks on little boys when they were naughty. One day, as one of the pixies was pulling petals from the roses beneath the house and making hats for all his friends out of them, he heard the little boys mother talking.

  "Son! Winter is coming and the nights are getting cold, and we need firewood! Go and gather us some kindling so that we may stay warm, for I am too busy making dinner."

  But the little boy said "No" and refused to go outside, and instead stayed nice and warm in his little bed next to the window that he loved so dearly, for his bed was near to the fire. And though the flames would flicker and get very low, still he was warm and thought not about needing more kindling. Well, as night fell, and as the f
ire dimmed and the boys mother grew cold, the pixies called out to the Eastern Wind, and asked for a favor. So the Eastern Wind, who owed many favors to the pixies, came and blew hard into the window and down the chimney, and blew out the fire.

  The little boys mother called out, "Son! The Eastern Wind has put out our fire, did you gather the kindling?" And the little boy called out "No," and the mother grew stern. "You must go outside and gather kindling before it becomes too cold!"

  But before the little boy could don his jacket and boots, the pixies called out to the Western Wind, and asked for a favor. So the Western Wind, who owned many favors to the pixies, came and dropped much snow down onto the cottage, and the Eastern Wind blew it all about, so that no one could go outside without becoming very sick.

  Unable to get kindling, the mother knew that without a fire, they would surely freeze. So she looked about the house, and saw that only the little boys bed would serve to keep them warm for the storm, so she took her axe and chopped up the little boys bed. And though the little boy cried and cried and cried, and was forced to sleep on the floor next to the fire with nothing but a few blankets, the pixies rejoiced, for they knew that next time the little boy would surely help his mother out, if only to make sure he didn't lose something else that he loved so dearly.

 
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