The Gift: A novel

My project for A man finds himself alone on a paradisical island where has has no need to work to support himself. His life is spent transforming the island.

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Location: Los Angeles, United States

I am an awkward, stubborn, slightly insane woman who would rather talk Plato than Prada, rather watch Frank Capra than Carrie Bradshaw, and rather listen to Norse myths sung in Icelandic than anything currently on the radio. Yeah. Told you I was weird.


Monday, November 29, 2004

Chapter 21: Beati qui sitiunt justitiam

As they walked up the path, they came upon a broad spot in the path. It was deeply covered with think grass, and the morning sun shone upon it brightly. As they advanced, they saw a figure at the far end of it. It was not like the other statues, which had been standing. This figure, instead, was kneeling, curled in an almost fetal position.
Approaching it, they noticed that this figure did not wear the sculpted robes that the other figures had worn, either, but was completely naked. The face seemed to be in an ecstasy, but whether one of joy or suffering, they could not tell.
On the ground just in front of the statue was an engraved plate:
"Behold the one who gave all he could,
Francis, in Assisi lived and died,
A generous servant of the Good,
Serving Him who was crucified,
He became poor with the poor,
And gave all he had to them; he tried
To rid himself of all worldly hoard,
To rid himself of pride and desire,
And so he died as one poor-born,
Though there were few higher."
They examined the molded face of the figure. He was young, and somewhat handsome, but his features were twisted into an expression not often seen on a human face. It was as if he were suffering the greatest pain imaginable, and as if he were happy about it. The expressions of joy and pain were equally mixed. His eyes were tight with pain, but they looked up towards the East, to the rising sun. His mouth had many lines at the corners, lines of pain, but he wore a brilliant smile.
Neither one of them could bear to look long at the statue, and they quickly moved on.
Arthur moved his hands over the sculpted figure, gently shaping the muscles, and smoothing the figure. He was still tired; twenty years on an island will do that to you, and he was nearing fifty. But he was no longer too tired to work; working, in fact, energized him once again.
He still did not know why he had ended up here, doing what he did. He didn’t, in fact, claim to know why anything that had happened had happened. But he was now content to let things happen, and to work with what he had.
He hummed as he worked, and laughed when he realized what he was humming. Drawing a deep breath, he began to sing in a loud voice that startled a nearby bird.
"Que sera sera,
Whatever will be, will be,
The future’s not ours to see,
Que sera sera!"
He sang this for some time until he finally grew weary of the repetition. He paused, stepping back from his statue to judge the effect. He nodded judiciously, and began cleaning his hands. The figure would soon dry in the warm morning sun, and then he could proceed to bake it. But that could wait for awhile.
He walked down to the stream to wash; he always loved seeing the clay wash away, leaving small clouds in the water. His skin was now very dark indeed; these past few years had been spent working in areas with very little shade, and he had been in full sunlight for many hours each day. His hair had gone from its original dark brown to a light brown with red and gold strands in it, though much of it was no longer either gold or brown, but silver. He had tied it back into a thick braid to keep it out of the sticky clay.
He walked back into the sunlight, shading his eyes against the light and looking to the mountain’s peak. Soon. He would be there soon. He had not climbed the mountain since that first night on the island. He still wasn’t sure how, or even if, he had climbed the mountain that night. He had woken so dazed from the wreck that he had not known quite what he was doing.
He longed to be on the top of the mountain again; he could still remember the sight of all the island spread out below him, and the shining sea running from horizon toi horizon, all blue, and green, and white, and golden with the rays of the rising sun. He could still hear the songs of the birds, the first time he had heard them rise for the day, and remembered his first sight of the flock of birds circling the island before soaring out to sea.
He took one last look at the peak of the mountain, and sighed. Then, smiling, he walked away, hunting for food for the day.

copyright 2004 Elizabeth J. Weaver


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