The Melted Stone

May 28, 2011
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The spiraling road leading to the home was disastrous. Old vines had taken over the once lovely birdbath, and trees were tangled together after many years of negligence. Most folks stayed away from this road and dubbed it as ‘haunted’. This rumor didn’t bother the owner of the dismal mansion; he much preferred to be alone. Many didn’t even know what went beyond the dirt path; much less did they know that it was inhabited by a sour old grouch.
Hatred isn’t formed by ones own choice, it occurs when there has been negligence of the heart; much like the overgrown, and intertwined trees. I would not imply that he didn’t care for himself, but rather that no one had cared for him.
The man had a great passion for the piano, and if you listened closely the wind might be carrying the very notes coming from his forte. That very occurrence drew little Shirley Watkins to the desolate road.
Day after day, week after week, and month after month had passed the same way for the old man. Life had become more of an endless routine to him. He never expected things to happen and time itself forgot about him.
One long winter had passed before the refreshing spring came. The flowers were blooming, and the snow had melted away. The true beauty of spring is that it melts away a harsh season. The spring season had urged many townspeople to take walks, and get away from the isolation that the long winter had caused. Many people would picnic near the stream, and to get there they would have to pass through the woods. During these happy seasons the old man withdrew from life like a hermit because he feared detection. The only sign of life was the sound of an old piano.
On this bright spring morning a little girl was walking through the forest. She often played games there; she was always trying to get away from the busy town. She loved being in a place where she was free to imagine. She loved to imagine princes saving princesses, knights’ bloody battles, and many other magical stories. As she was reenacting a dragon terrorizing a village, she saw the river. The river was a spectacular sight. Many families were picnicking there and children were running around playing hide-and-seek. She watched as the children played together. Shirley wished that she could join, but as some kids ran near her direction, she quickly hid behind a tree. She knew that she was different and that they wouldn’t like her ‘type’ of games, so she ventured on through the forest. As she went, the thought of getting lost was becoming more evident to her. She was afraid if she continued, then she may never find her way back to the pretty river again. Suddenly the old stories that had frightened her as a child came back into memory; Hansel and Gretel also got lost and were frightened. The thought of being like them made her happy, so she began to throw bread from her leftover sandwich and on she went. A beautiful butterfly caught her attention in the sunshine so she followed it. She could never quite catch it. Finally giving up, she spotted an enchanting path with broken trees covered with patches of snow ahead. She ran to it and danced down the path singing childlike chants. She stopped. A distinct noise was being carried through the air; this made her curious. She followed the sound down the winding path. The music ended abruptly when she came in sight of a huge deteriorating home. The home was covered in snow. All of the plants surrounding it were dead and brown. It seemed as if spring had never occurred. To her it was a palace; she imagined that a princess had been locked in it and forced to live in the deadness for years. She snuck to the back of the house and looked for towers or any damsels in distress. When none were found, she knocked on the front door. Again and again she knocked. When there seemed to be no one living there, she decided to start her journey back home. The sun was fading and she didn’t want to lose her way.
The old man peeked carefully outside of his window. The little girl had gone. His heart was beating fast and it was a great relief that she left. He gruffly walked to the front door and unlocked it. He walked outside and looked around. The way the little girl had cheerfully danced outside his home, seemed as if she thought it was beautiful. He smirked and stepped over her tiny footprints in the snow. He went back inside, locked the doors, and closed the shades of the many windows.
The mysteriousness of the palace drew Shirley back to the deserted path the next day. She almost knew her way there, and it only took her a few extra minutes to decide which way to go. Since she was a bit more familiar with her surroundings, she decided not to use bread crumbs this time. Again the little girl gaily danced through the snowy path. Her imagination was running wild. She was trying to figure out why it was still snowing here in the middle of spring. Her theory was that it had been cursed by an evil witch. She tip-toed around the house very quietly and searched the garden. When no one was found she decided to search the front of the house. She looked at it from a distance; it seemed reclusive and different from yesterday. She realized it was because the windows had all been covered with blinds. It then struck her that someone must be living there. The house was completely still, no music flooded the air, and no movement was to be seen. Shirley walked to the front door, a thin layer of snow crackled under her feet. She looked down at her shoes underneath them were two big footprints. This discovery made her excited. She again ran to the front door and knocked repetitively. “Hello?” She cried, “I know there is someone in there.” She shivered; the snow was still falling on the dormant ground. She thought of the warm river and the beautiful flowers surrounding it. “Maybe I can come back later.” she thought. She skipped past the cold, dark winding road, and into the warm spring sunshine. The flowers out by the river looked so colorful after seeing dead ones for a while. She grabbed a handful of flowers and decided to go home.
The man opened the creaking front door after she had gone again, and stepped out. He had been watching her with curiosity that morning. As he walked onto the porch something crackled under his feet. He looked down and a pretty bouquet of flowers was lying by his doorstep. He sighed, and picked them up. He remembered when the flowers surrounding his home were just as beautiful. The thought produced a single tear on his cheek. He clenched his fist, threw down the flowers and again locked his door.
Someone had been living in the home, Shirley was sure. She was a determined little girl, and since she had nothing better to do those next few days she again explored the home. This time, she knew better than to sing and make noise when entering the estate. She quietly crept to the garden. In the back of the home, the windows were not shut up. She could clearly see a room with a mahogany piano and a vase of wilted flowers set on top. Quietly she crept, so quietly that she couldn’t even hear her own breath. A man was sitting at the piano stool and had just begun to play. He was old and his fingers were quickly touching the yellow-stained keys. The song was part of her; it described the feelings in her heart. The old man and Shirley were very much alike; the song touched them in the same way. She looked up at the snowflakes falling steadily and danced alone with a childlike grin on her face. The old man heard something behind him and glanced. As he watched her his finger kept on playing as if they knew the song themselves. After sternly watching her enjoy the music, a beautiful grin crossed his face. He was overwhelmingly happy all of a sudden. His fingers continued playing the notes but he was heartily laughing. The clouds of many years left his face. As Shirley looked around her, the snow melted and flowers bloomed. The stone that had grown to be his heart melted at the sight of true beauty.

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