Day 166: The Unrushed Castle

  • The Unrushed Castle
    by
    Matt Zurbo

 

Imagine life is a race.
(Two kids running.)

Just look at a busy street.
(Peek hour)

Or any school yard.
(Jumble of kids in playground, wrestling, playing soccer, running with water balloons, pretty set sneering plain girl, etc…)

It certainly seemed that way to Ruby.
(Lone girl, walking. Action all around her.)

”Why didn’t you play football today?” the teacher would ask.
“The same reason I don’t chase boys,
or brag about the latest music,
or want to be the top of my class,” Ruby said.
“I don’t want to race.”

“School isn’t a race.” the teacher mocked her.
”Sure it is,” Ruby said.
Then, before the teacher could say; “You’re imagining things”, the bell rang…
(Students stampeding past Teacher and Ruby, who are standing their ground, staring at each other.)

On the way home, Ruby watched people compete for fitness,

work their lives away to make more money than each other,

listened to them brag about having the best holiday,

watched them boast who had the newest car.

Ruby burst through the door at home that night, and yelled;
“I’m going to write a book!”
”That’s nice, dear,” Mum said. “You’d be real good at that.”
“Sure, you could win an award, or something?” bragged Dad, without taking his eyes off the telly.

They were watching lifestyle programs about who could build the best backyard,
which couple could make the tastiest dinner,
who had the best singing voice.  

That night (in her room) Ruby listened to the scratchy howl of an old tomcat. It was beautiful;
passionate,
hurting,
proud.

“If I could I’d vote for your voice…” Ruby whispered into the dark.

The Saturday morning sun rose to peace and quiet. Ruby ignored the ads for the BEST cars, and biggest bargains on morning television and went down to the creek, where she could sigh.

At first, the only sound was the hiss of a slowly pushing breeze ebbing through the leaves. Ruby let out a mighty sigh.
Nobody shouting, this was Heaven!

But then, all she could hear were fishermen, bragging about how big their catch was.

And the loud farty noise of cross country motor bikes competing for fun!
(Four racing, one out front, riding either side of Ruby, who is shielding herself.)

Ruby jumped in the pond
(and hid under a lily)
It was quiet there.

”It’s not that I want to do nothing. I LOVE doing stuff! I just DON’T WANT TO COMPETE!” she raged.
”Then Don’t,” a frog replied.
(Sitting on top of lily on Ruby’s head.)
”Oh,” said Ruby.

And went home and stared at the ceiling and thought about it lots.

”I… I want to make something beautiful,” she said to the open window. “Even if I can’t brag about it. Even if it will never last.”
”Then do,” the frog called.

Ruby steeled herself.
”Okay, I will.”

The first thing Ruby made was a small wooden box to give to Mum.

“A present!” Mum said, and opened the box, only for a lovely white dove to fly out of it, then the window, and away.
”A present you can’t keep,” Ruby said with pride.

Then, for no reason at all – the best kind – she gave Dad the most wonderful smile he’s ever seen. Just to make him feel glad.
“A moment a photo can’t tell.”

And wrote poems in the air with sparklers, giving them all her heart and soul, just to read them on the insides of her eyelids, then watch them fade.
“No-one can brag…”

”Well done,” said the frog.
But all that had just been practice.

And, next morning, Ruby built the most brilliant sand castle she could, using twisty shapes,
curls,
beaded drawbridges,
the thinnest sticks for wall patterns, windows and doorways.
(Ruby, from above, laying out all pieces and tools before starting.)

(Ruby standing, admiring sandcastle, Empty beach behind her.)

And then the next morning she built another…
(Cold, windblown, building an amazing castle, covered in flowers.)

then another…
(Another castle. This one built on elevated drift wood, decorated by bird feathers.)

Things that housed her passion,
that helped her practice skills, patience,
That didn’t need an audience at all.

Sandcastles. With crabs guarding the motes,
and seaweed kings.
and shells for shark fins,
and small, round rocks for towers….

Things of beauty,

that she could take her time making,

before watching, as they were slowly consumed by the sea.

The End

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