A children's story.
Do you live in a town with cobblestone streets? Or do you know of a town with cobblestone streets?
Let me tell you about the people that live between the gaps of the cobblestones.
This is Cobblestone Town and each gap to them is a street. The cobbles mountain ranges which they climb to the very summit to gather the dust brought by the wind. They mix this dust with the rain that flows down the mountains to make a paste solid enough to build the walls of their houses that line the Cobblestone Town streets. The mixture of dust and rain is also used to mould the tables and chairs that fill their houses. Also for the tube shaped bag used to gather the dust.
There is always dust from the human world above. There is always wind.
You had to be eighteen cobblestone years to climb the mountains to gather your own dust to build your first house.
Oslek was now eighteen cobblestone years and he had almost reached the summit. It had taken him most of the day, and he was tired, and wished to stop and rest. His mother and father shouted encouragement from below. Part of him wondered if he really wanted his own house. The truth be told he was quite happy to live with his mother and father. They fed him from the crumbs dropped by the humans as they passed over the cobbles. There was always plenty of food for the people of Cobblestone Town. Humans were messy eaters.
It was time though for Oslek to grow up even if he didn’t want to. He would have to gather his own crumbs. He would have to mix his own dust and water to make a bed for him to lie in. A table and chair to sit down to his dinner.
He could see the sun high in the sky and he smiled. Then he smiled down at his parents. It would be fine. He had watched his parents all his life build things and cook. He had helped his mother build the table and his own chair with his father. If only he had been paying attention at the time.
He climbed on telling himself he would remember how to build things when he had to.
He reached the summit and remembered just in time to put dust in his ears. The human noise from above had grown louder the higher he climbed. At the summit it was like the thunder his mother had told him about. She had once ventured to the summit when the rains had come and she had slipped and…Caught herself just in time.
The dark though and the shake of the thunder had frightened her. She had never climbed for dust again. Maybe that was why while his father smiled up at him, his mother’s smile didn’t really look like a smile.
He had gathered his dust and was beginning the climb down when it happened. He had been warned of course about the human giants. They did not mean any harm. They just did not know that the Cobblestone people lived between the gaps in the cobblestones.
Just as Oslek began his climb down the mountain a giant’s foot had thumped on the cobbles directly above his head. The mountain shook and Oslek nearly lost his grip and very nearly dropped his bag full of dust. He could hear his mother’s gasp below. He held tight onto the side of the mountain, gripped tight his bag of dust.
Suddenly it was dark as the giant’s foot shifted and shut out the sun. Suddenly he was soaked through as the giants foot splashed into a puddle and down the water poured like a waterfall between the gaps in the cobbles.
The Cobblestone people had another use for the dust. They mixed it with just the right amount of water, and moss that clung to the side of the mountains, to make a glue which when applied to their hands and feet allowed them to safely climb the mountains. Their hands and feet sticking to the side of the mountains like suckers.
Afterwards the glue easily washed off. They didn’t want their hands sticking together every time they clapped in celebration of a new house being built. Or their feet stuck to the one spot on the Cobblestone streets.
If there was too much water in the mix though, for instance if a giant stood in a puddle, and down it came like a waterfall, the balance of water, dust and moss would be no more and…
…Oslek lost his grip and…
…Oslek slid slipping frantically hitting his hands and feet again and again off the side of the mountain trying desperately to stop. Or even to slow down.
Oslek tried not to look down but he did and his village seemed to be rushing up to meet him faster and faster.
His mother and father wide eyed and the look on their face of not knowing what to do.
Through the water streaming across his eyes he could make out the blurry figures of the Cobblestone people running for their houses to escape the torrential rain of water. All except his mother and father who linked arms in an attempt to catch him before he hit the ground.
His hands grabbed and scratched at the mountain. His hands were green with moss.
He had an idea.
What was the formula of the glue again?
One part moss, three parts dust and…How much water? He wracked his brains but couldn’t remember.
He took a chance and gave up trying to get a grip on the mountain, and falling through the air he poured some dust on his hands, dropping the bag as he did so. It rolled through the air spilling the dust as it went. No time to be sad though he was still falling.
He mixed the dust that was left with the moss. He shouldn’t have looked down again but he did.
The Cobblestone streets were getting very close.
He held his hands together like a bowl to catch the rain.
He couldn’t remember.
ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE…
Here goes nothing he told himself!
He closed his hands and quickly rubbed in the moss and dirt and water and slapped his hands against the side of the mountain.
IT WASN’T WORKING. HE WAS STILL SLIDING.
He heard the clatter of the now empty bag hit the ground.
He was never going to build his own house.
He was slowing.
Yes. Yes. He was slowing.
He nearly took his hands off the mountain to clap in celebration but remembered in time. He was still too high up.
He slowed and slowed and stopped just in time his feet dangling inches above the ground.
It was still raining a waterfall but he didn’t care.
His mother and father hugged and hugged squeezing the rain water that soaked him from his clothes. It soaked all three of them now and all three didn’t care.
On the way home part of him, yes, was sad that he had lost all his dust to build his first house.
A larger part of him sighed with happiness. He didn’t need to grow up till tomorrow.
Then he would climb again and gather the dust. Tomorrow he would build his own house.
Tonight his father would make him crumb soup, his favourite. His mother would call him ‘her wee boy’ and ruffle his hair.
Yes, tomorrow is soon enough to grow up.