Ten Years a Statue

You and your wife, turned to stone. Together you stand in the room where the monster cast the spell, looking at the empty throne, the ornate carpet, the pots of fire burning hot. All gray through your pebbled eyes. You don’t look anywhere else. It’s impossible to turn your head.

With the monsters gone, treasure hunters scale the towers with ease and find you. They don’t remember meeting you before you were a statue. They marvel at how lifelike you are. They reckon they’ll sell you both for a pretty penny. Heavy as you are, they drag you out of the tower on your back, and the sky, too, is gray.

You imagine your uncle searching for you, sending his men. You imagine your children, the twins, crying in a way they’ve never cried before, an omen, a signal that something horrible has happened. You imagine these things so clearly it is almost like you’re watching them through a tiny screen held in your hands.

You, so lifelike, are auctioned off to the highest bidder, a very rich man. The treasure hunters keep your wife, to let her accumulate in value, to sell at a later date. The rich man takes you to his home, sets you up in the lawn, staring out across the ocean like an adventurer, an explorer. The man has an infant son of his own.

You once wondered what it meant to be turned to stone. If you would simply be encased in a thick layer of rock, the same flesh and muscle and bone beneath it. But no, you are changed through and through. Your guts are boulders, your blood hardened. Your whole body layered like the crust of the earth.

Even unable to lie down or close your eyes, you sleep, or something like it. There, even your dreams become sedentary, static. You spend days on the couch, scrolling through feeds, waiting for streams to buffer. You do nothing. Grand plans crack and fall apart, dusting the dusty tile floor of your two-bedroom house, so full of echoes now. Your roommate is never home.

You watch years pass. It must be torture, unable to move, waiting for time to carve its way, but there are gaps, like a black screen between scenes, where everything speeds up. The man’s son learns to crawl, then stand. You miss his first steps, facing the wrong direction, but you can hear the fussing of his parents behind you as he stumbles toward them.

When their son is out of earshot indoors, you hear the man and his wife fret over terrifying rumors, things going wrong in the world. They call you their good luck statue. They have been very lucky since you arrived. They believe you’ll protect them, like a saint on a stained glass window, filtering the world into always something beautiful.

You think of your own children, measure their growth, their lives, by the rich couple’s son, who is older now, articulate and adventurous, who spends hours running in circles around you, pretending to fight, drawing a sword and challenging you to a duel.

In your sedentary dreams, you are unmarried, childless. You sit on your bed, a pillow behind your back. You stream television shows on your laptop, scroll through feeds on your phone. The mail arrives. More wedding invitations. You magnet them to your fridge, all these teeth-glistening photos of friends pairing off.

You wake one day to the sky gone black. Monsters descend upon the child. Here is where you should fight, throw your edged boomerang, strike with your blade, but you are a statue, a lawn ornament. You cannot move. You are not even good luck. The monsters take the child away, just as they took you as a boy. There is nothing you can do to stop it.

The rich man, for months, paces the front lawn. The search parties come back with no news, no sign of the boy. The man, he kicks you, knocks you over. You don’t feel it, because your skin is stone, but it is painful all the same. Now all you see are gray tufts of grass.

Leaves cover you, then snow. Flowers spring up, then wither. It all keeps happening again and again. And you feel guilty, but after all you’ve been through, stillness like this, it is almost pleasant. It is almost a relief. You are not the hero, and you never will be. Leave it to someone else. And so the days and years passed. You hear those words as though reading the text in the air.

In your sedentary dreams, you might as well be stone. You go to work, you come home, you scroll through feeds while streams buffer, but it’s all the same. You’re not going anywhere. You don’t know where else you’d go.

Still, you picture your wife out there, adorning someone else’s lawn. You think of your children and wonder what their lives are like. It is hard to measure their ages without the rich man’s child growing up before your very eyes, but you imagine the twins must be about as old as the boy and girl who are coming up the front walkway now, coming to sit beside you where you lay. Yes, these children, they look to be the exact right age.

The children, they exchange looks. The girl wields a marbled staff. She raises it toward the sky, and a strange light engulfs you. The machinations of your body start up like an earthquake. You blink shale from eyes. Your skin, it’s so soft.