the history of things (Story #3)


The boy looked up, and this is what the clouds told him:

That radio antenna over to the left, the giant metal X stuck firmly to the hilltop was no antenna. It was once alive—a being raising his hands into the fog. And the stadium light that the boy’s father was always complaining was too bright, was in another life, a flower whose petals gave off light. People wouldn’t believe the boy when later in life, he would tell them what the clouds had told him, but that didn’t bother him. Even though he was young, he knew there would always be doubters.
Still, he listened to the clouds, and they told him this as well:

The world was once very different. It was not unusual to be thankful, to call out to the heavens from the highest peak and smile. But even back then, long before men and women walked the Earth, there was already Jealousy. At that time, Jealousy actually roamed the Earth instead of people’s hearts. This Jealousy was constant and, contrary to common opinion, not green at all.
Jealousy looked on at all the happy beings in the world, and true to his nature, the happier and the more thankful they were, the more his chest ached. That was the way Jealousy thought of the feeling, but it wasn’t pain. There was just something in his heart that he couldn’t control. People nowadays don’t get it: the fact that Jealousy did not mean to hurt anyone. He was just the way he was.
After years and years, as this feeling at the center of him grew, Jealousy finally couldn’t take it any longer. He went away and hid himself in a deep, dark cave, though no one is sure where that cave is now, and he cut his chest open and took out the frozen hunk that was his heart.
What came next was instant. There was no vegetation left for miles and miles around the cave—only white powder and weeds and twigs were left. The land was becoming sad. And that cold sadness kept pouring down through the world, spreading out in waves from Jealousy’s cave. The effect was that all those creatures, like the antenna and the stadium light who were once alive and happy and who gave thanks to the world, now were lifeless. Skyscrapers became skyscrapers. Bridges became bridges. Antennas froze into antennas and Lights to lights—in each case, all these beings lost their capital letter to a lower-case death.

“But then, how did we come to be?” the boy asked the clouds.

The answer was not a good one. “Jealousy,” the clouds said, “looked like people.” “You are the descendants of Jealousy,” the clouds told the boy. “For you see when Jealousy removed his heart, his blood flowed and combined with the sadness of the Earth, and out of that came you.”
The boy wept at hearing this, and the clouds came together and tried to make pictures in the sky that would make him feel better. They became cotton candy and clowns smiling, and knights on horses and giant fluffy birds, but the boy could not be consoled, and he wept until he had nothing left in him.
Years later, he would write many books, but the theme of each was always the same, and it goes as follows: the world is full of wonder. We live surrounded by frozen bones. We just have to look to see them or what they are.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Categories: fiction

Author:the circular runner

g. martinez cabrera currently lives in San Francisco with his lovely and talented wife. He holds degrees from Columbia and from the Harvard Divinity School where he spent three years thinking about lofty things. Since then, he tries to write some lofty and some not-so-lofty things down so others can see how lofty he sometimes is. When he’s not writing or spending time with said wife, he tortures young people with learning. He blogs at and Tumbls at

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