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Cynthia Staples : The Long Walk

Words & Images

The Long Walk

(or What Happens When a Little Girl Named Emma Asks You to Make Up a Story About the Origin of the Green Stone She Sees in Your Rock Collection)

By Cynthia Staples

Once upon a time there was a girl named Emma. One morning she left her home for a walk through the woods. She had walked part of this road before and she thought it a lovely path. But this day she wanted to walk further than she had ever walked before.

The beginning and familiar stretches of the road were, more or less, straight. The new sections of the road, Emma was delighted to learn, went up hills and down valleys, and even crossed a creek by temporarily becoming a stone bridge. When Emma reached the other side of that bridge she peeked into the waters beneath.

Photo © Cynthia Staples

Green stone sparkled. She held a few of the stones in her hand.

She loved to collect things, but somehow, just one stone seemed enough. She dropped the stones back into the waters, all except one. She placed that stone in her pocket.

People walked the long road with her but she mostly ignored their presence. She was more fascinated by the sight of monarchs gliding overhead and the chirp-chirp-chirp and the click-click-click of insects unseen. Time and distance lost all meaning as she imagined fanciful beasts sleeping in the shadows and angels dancing in the dappled light.

But as light shifted from the lemony hues of morning to the rosy golds of early afternoon, Emma knew at some point she would need to return home. She could not stay wonderfully lost forever, could she? Probably not, she thought. And just then, as she turned a bend, that is when she came to the fork in the road. Emma stared at that fork a long while, and then do you know what Emma did?

She picked it up.

Photo © Cynthia Staples

And as she continued to walk that long road, she picked up more forks. They came in all shapes and sizes and colors, too. Most were metal. A few were plastic. Some were tarnished. Others seemed fragile. All were beautiful in Emma’s eyes.

As she picked them up she stuck them in her pockets. A few she placed in her hair like the picks she’d seen the fancy women wear.

When her pockets grew full and enough forks adorned her hair, she simply clutched them in her hands until she could collect no more. And then do you know what Emma did?

She continued to walk the long road, of course. However, now she was weighed down by forks. They grounded her.

Fanciful thoughts still filled her mind, yet she could not ignore the clink and clank of the many forks. The shadows deepened and the winds arose. A few of the forks fell from her hair. Several slipped from her pockets. Most she clutched tight to her body as she grew chill. She decided she was ready to go home.

As she reversed her steps, she became aware of the people who walked the road with her. She found herself studying their faces and the bearing of their bodies. Many seemed quite happy and after a while, with a jaunty step, would veer off the main road along a side path. Others seemed unwell. In fact, they appeared lost and not in a fun way.

“What is wrong?” Emma asked one boy.

“I am without choice,” the boy explained in a sad voice. “There is no way to walk except along this one road.”

Emma thought for a moment, and then said slowly, “No, I do not think that is true. There are many roads in this world to walk.”

And then do you know what Emma did?

Photo © Cynthia Staples

She handed him a fork.

As she made her long journey home, she managed to give away all of the forks she had collected. She had no idea what people would do with their forks on the road but at least they had a fork before them. And what did Emma have?

Photo © Cynthia Staples

Well, Emma had her green stone. She placed it on her windowsill so that as she lay in bed that night she could watch it sparkle in the moonlight.

The End •

Next: Winter Window Magic »

© 2012 Cynthia Staples. All rights reserved.

Photo by Cynthia StaplesCynthia Staples is a highly creative writer and photographer living in the Boston area. Her words and images capture moments and memories and weave together inspiring stories for her readers. More »

Updated 4/17/14