One day I ventured out beyond the fence. I had been out there before to follow a wayward ball or a frisbee that just wouldn’t go where it was supposed to, but those had always been quick missions where the goal was set, the object was to be retrieved, the game was still to be finished. On this particular day no agenda or flight of fancy held my attention. I ventured out there just to walk and think, to find solace amongst the tangled weeds.
After an hour or more on a wandering track I came upon a pineapple-shaped sculpture, half buried in the soft, sandy soil. Somehow I found it more intriguing than ominous. It’s lower cylindrical shape had been carved with flowing lines, creating maze-like shapes that overlapped and resembled brain matter. Its surface was smooth to the touch and I spent the better part of an hour tracing its lines and curves in a way that brought a buzz of pleasure to the back of my scalp.
As the summer went on I took more and more trips out there, first just to the “brainapple” as I came to call it, but I soon discovered more interesting things in the area beyond the fence. Next I found a large vase or urn. It stood four feet tall and nearly as wide and made of a single polished stone. The coloring from afar was brown with hints of green but as you got closer the colors split into nuanced shades of reds and oranges and blues and purples and as you focused in on any particular shade it split again into still more variant colors. The closer I came the further I stood from knowing the true color of the urn.
On another journey I found a short pyramid whose color can only be described as an emerald blue. Each of the four faces tapered up to a flat plateau two feet from the ground. On each face lay a yellow engraving, slightly different from the ones on either side. Spinning the pyramid would, I’m certain, have brought the shapes to life.
On still another trip, I found a rectangular pillar. On top of the pillar stood four small connected balls like a caterpillar made of bronze. When you looked at it out of the corner of your eye you were certain the caterpillar moved.
After months of these trips and more statues and figures and stonework than I can count, I came upon a pile of loose stones sitting to the side of a small, level area. I stared at the pile till nightfall and stumbled back into the dark woods. I had not been out at that hour and could not find my way home. Eventually I lay down in the shadow of a statue and waited for morning to break.
For nearly a week after I found my way home, I took no walks and tried desperately to push away all thoughts of my journeys beyond the fence. But something in those rocks called out to me like Sirens. I knew for better or worse I must dash myself upon that pile or lose a piece of my soul forever.
I arrived at the pile in the early morning and slaved away, delicately picking and moving and turning the rocks until a tower stood on top of that hill. At dusk I called it finished, and strutted back towards my house with pride and a sense of accomplishment, but as I passed the statues I had seen before, I began to remember how my tower listed ever so slightly to one side, how certain rocks had not fit together perfectly, and how ugly it ultimately was.
I returned to the tower every day for a month changing rocks here and there; refining, adjusting, perfecting until the very thought of the tower made me nauseous and in a fit of terror I pushed it over, letting all my work crash upon the ground, leaving only an oblong pile as evidence of what had happened there.
It took three months more before I could stomach the idea of returning to my journeys beyond the fence, but even when I did I avoided the site of the tower.
I found other stonework: a field of stones set in a circle, leaning in towards the center; a boulder cut in half with a polished, shiny cube placed in the middle; and a stack of tetrahedrons, weighted and cut such that they stood in a half arch, looking as if they’d fall over at any moment, but more solid and immovable than an old, majestic oak.
And then I found a set of stone working tools. They were bright and clean and showed no sign of use or decay. An inscription on the box read, “He cannot be, who will not see.”
I brought the tools home and set to work first on small stones and pebbles, refining, polishing, finding the curve and edge and feel of the tools and learning to make them extensions of my hands. Like a man gaining his sight by degrees, I found my work coming into sharper focus.
Day upon day, month upon month, year upon year I worked with the tools until one day I picked them up walked out beyond the fence and never returned.