Stone’s Prayer

The woman made of marble bent to the pond beneath the olive tree, her stone flesh folding in soft mounds, her white and gray-streaked knees staining green. She set the small paper boat strewn with flowers onto the surface of the water and set her hands on her thighs, breathing in the ocean-salted air with porous rock lungs. She watched the boat drift, the water saturate the paper, the paper from the ancient scroll sink and disintegrate, and hours later even the flowers became waterlogged and disappeared beneath the algae-choked water. She looked into the sky, now black and thick with starlight, and was relieved; her offering was complete, her spell was cast. She did not go back to the temple, but laid down by the water’s edge, and slept.

When she woke, the day was warm and already bright around her. She stood, brushed the grass from her glassy smooth body, and went in search of the lover for whom she’d prayed to her goddess. The marble statues scattered throughout the ancient garden stood as they had always good, in the exact same poses, perfect and frozen. Moss and ivy crept up their legs. Grass and weeds invaded the pebble paths she trod, looking for anything that was different, anyone that might have moved. Anyone like herself.

She saw the empty pedestal, but would not believe it for what it was at first sight. She had not paid much attention before to the figure who had perched upon it before; she was far back in the untended rose garden, where brambles and thorns slung their way out of their beds and up the sagging fences. The woman looked frantically, around corners and in several of the many empty, silent tombs. They were still and silent, with no pad of stone on stone to mark new footsteps.

She found the girl in much the same pose as she had been as a statue, crouched at the edge of a newly blossoming flowerbed, poking at an ant mound with a stick. The leaves crunched beneath her heavy footsteps, and the girl looked up. She was made of something rougher than marble; granite, perhaps. More gray and porous, like a thundercloud made stone. Her simple sash of a dress moved with her, like thin linen. The girl grinned. She stood; she was older than her childlike manner let on, with the angular beginnings of curves of a young woman. She came to the marble woman with arms outstretched, and they embraced and laughed and swung each other around, delighted beyond reason to live and to not be alone.