Do you believe in sacred spaces? The power of the unknown? There are things we meet from time to time that are maybe better left alone….
‘What’s this here?’ He was poking at the ground with his foot, indicating the point where the strange, blackened stump protruded from the sand.
No one knows exactly, she said. It’s been there ever since I can remember. I’ve heard people talking about it over the years. It seems to be a bit of an icon. Definitely a landmark around here.
Well, it’s going to have to go, unfortunately, he said. We need to clear this area as per the contract agreement, and this… whatever it is… is right in the middle of where the new road will be. I’ll just get my guys to lift it. It’ll be a quick, painless job.
She smiled. He frowned. Does that seem strange to you? he asked. It’s a burnt-out piece of wood, not so? Really not complicated.
Have you had a proper look? she asked. It’s not burnt, and it’s not even wood. Take a look.
He leaned in closer to the strange object, narrowing his eyes and rubbing his palm along the surface. He pulled his hand away. Okay, I see that, he said. There was a tone of surprise in his voice, and an annoyance at being caught off-guard. It’s made of stone or something. What is this thing anyway? Some kind of fossil, or what?
As I said, nobody seems to know. I’ve heard stories, though. About its ‘special powers’ and other things. The locals say that it’s been here since the beginning of time. I’ve also heard them say that people have tried to remove it in the past and that some of those individuals… well… things didn’t go well for them in the end.
He was staring at her now, his mouth twitching as he held back a laugh.
You don’t expect me, surely, to buy into that kind of superstitious nonsense. Are you really asking me to take this seriously?
I don’t know, she said. I’m just letting you know what I know. What I’ve been told. Some of the history and folklore of the area. You asked me about the object and I’m telling you what I know. She smiled, not condescending, but with a suggestion of patience that was starting to wear a bit thin.
Well, as I see it, a commitment is a commitment, and we have a job to do here. He turned his back to her then and started to walk in the direction of the vehicle that was parked a short distance away, calling out as he went: Okay guys, we need some heavy artillery over here, please; something that can cut through stone. Pronto.
She watched him walk off, talking loudly to his three teammates as they got out of the vehicle and started unloading their tools from the container at the back. From the corner of her eye, she glimpsed a small movement on the ground just to her right. She looked down and saw a small animal, a hedgehog, rooting about amongst the short tufts of grass there. She stood quietly, not wanting to disturb the little creature as it scratched and rummaged around, probably looking for something to eat. She watched it, admiring its pretty face with its dark-button eyes and nose, and the small round ears. The sun emerged from behind the clouds at that moment, and a ray glanced against its small, bright eyes as it lifted its head to look at her. And although it was obviously just a trick of the light, it really seemed for just a moment, that it was winking at her.
Image credit Denman Prospect Village