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JWR 3.49 - Fable
One morning, when he was seven, Jake awoke to find a hole in his heart. He flung his covers off and ran to his mother who was preparing a breakfast of eggs in the kitchen. Mother, Jake cried, I have a hole in my heart. His mother looked down at him for a moment then moved the eggs off the stove before bending down to his level. She placed her hand over the center of his chest and smiled. I can feel the hole, she said softly. Youíre at about the right age now, she continued, when you first realize your heart needs more than just the love of your mother or of your father. Jakeís motherís eyes began to well with tears, partly of happiness, but mostly of sympathy. Finding a love to fill that hole wonít be easy, Jake. You need to search it out, wherever it might be hiding. It can take years, and sometimes people never really find it, but I have faith in you, Jake. I think youíre going to find just the right sized stop for your heartís hole. Jakeís mother wiped her eyes, tousled Jakeís hair and continued making breakfast.
Through breakfast, Jake thought on what his mother said about his heart and his heartís hole. After he cleaned his plate and fork, Jake went outside and started looking behind trees and under brush and along the riverís shore for his love. He looked and looked all morning long until his mother called him in for lunch. They ate in silence and all Jake could think about was going back out to look for his love. Jake ate fast to his motherís surprise and ran out of the house without cleaning his plate where he continued looking high and low for his love and he had just about given up hope when he saw it.
Mother! Mother! I found it! I found it! What is it, his startled mother asked. I found the stop for my heart! Jake proudly held up a rock for his mother to see. The rock, a little smaller than an apple, was mostly milky quartz and quite breathtaking. Jakeís mother reached out for the stone, and for a moment, Jake thought of not letting her hold it, but after a secondís hesitation, he handed it to her. Jakeís mother had never seen a rock its size quite like it. This is a very pretty rock, Jake, she said, and maybe it would fit your heartís hole, but this stone canít fix the hole in your heart. But I love it, Jake said with tears beginning to roll down his cheeks. That may be, but, Jake, this stone canít love you back.
Jake went outside and cried into the night. Jake, at seven, thought he would never find love, thought his heart would have a hole in it forever.
For days and days Jake dragged his feet when he walked. The stone found a home on the shelf in his room but he no longer loved it the same. Jake smiled rarely now and his mother knew there was nothing she could do. Jake would have to find his own love.
Jake had long since given up hope of finding a stop for his heartís wound and spend many of his days sitting by himself along the riverís shore. One day, that was no different than the day before, Jake sat and watched the wind make ripples across the riverís surface. A noise brought Jake out of his lonely thoughts and he looked around. A yipping puppy was uneasily running toward Jake. The puppy had brown fur and big paws. Jake knew the puppy would grow into a big dog one day. The puppy was almost to Jake now and the way the puppyís ears flopped as it ran made Jake smile.
Mother! Look, Iíve found the real stop for my heart. See, Jake said, bringing the puppy into the house. He can love me back! To prove it, Jake set the dog on the floor and put his face near the puppy. The puppy then began licking Jakeís face and its tail wagged. Jakeís mother was grateful to see her son happy once again, but she had to tell Jake the truth. Jake, she said quietly, I can see you love that puppy and that the puppy loves you, but this wonít fill your heartís wound. While the puppyís wagging tail and wet licks may tell you it loves you, this puppy can never hold you in its arms and warm you with love. Jakeís happiness disappeared as he heard his motherís terrible news.
The puppy grew big and strong just as Jake thought that first day. Jake named him Stone, and like the quartz, the dog was not what Jake needed to heal his heart. Years passed and Stone grew older and older, slower and slower until Stone did not wake up. Jake nearly cried, but did not see the use in crying for a dog that could not hold him in its arms and warm him with love. Later that day, Jake buried his dog without a grave marker in the fields behind his home.
Jakeís mother sent him into the nearest town, Galway, alone now that he was fifteen and strong enough to take care of himself. She sent Jake along with a list of foods she wanted and enough coin to buy it all. Jake walked straight to town and saw a Galway girl on the road just short of the town. She said hello and Jake stopped to talk to her. Her hair was black and her eyes were blue. Jake felt she could fit his heartís wound perfectly. She invited Jake to a town dance and he said yes. They walked together and were halfway to the dance when the rain came down. She told Jake they could stay out of the rain in her house. They ran to her house where she asked Jake to dance, so Jake slowly took her hand and gave her a twirl. She told Jake she wanted to give him something but wanted him to give her something in return. The only thing Jake had was the money his mother gave him for the foods from town. Jake thought for a time then gave her his motherís money and the Galway girl kissed Jake, and kissed him again.
When Jake woke up, he was all alone and could do nothing but go home. When he walked in, his mother stood and rushed to Jake to hold him because he had never been away from home all night before. She asked what happened and blushed when Jake told her truthfully. Then Jake told his mother that he loved the Galway girl and that she could heal his heart that had ached for eight years. Jakeís mother sat him down and told him that he would never see the Galway girl again. Jake protested, saying that she was no rock, that she could love him back, and that she was no puppy, that she could hold him and make him warm with love. Jakeís mother sighed and took Jakeís hand in hers. This is the hardest lesson to learn, she said. This is harder than a rock not loving you back or a puppy not holding you in its warm love. She showed you she loved you back and held you in her warm arms, but where was she when you awoke? Sometimes we meet people who say and do things that make us believe they love us, but the real way to know if they love you is by looking into their eyes. If you can see the love in her eyes, Jake, then you know she can fix your heart. Did she have that look? Jake tried to remember for a long time and had to admit the Galway girl never looked him in the eyes. Jake felt the hole in his heart grow in size. Just remember, Jakeís mother said kindly, no matter how much it hurts, no matter how discouraged you are, keep looking up.
Years continued to pass and Jake grew older, grew a beard and the hole in his heart also grew. One morning his mother had yet to begin breakfast when Jake woke up. He went into her room and found that she had not woken up. Jake buried her in the fields behind his home and then sat by her side as the summer sun shone down on his naked torso. Sweat fell from his nose tip and chin as his body rose and fell slightly with his breathing. The hole in his heart suddenly grew like an eyeís pupil in the dark. Jake sprang to his feet and ran.
When Jake stopped running, he did not recognize where he was. The people wore different clothes and sounded funny when they talked. Despite the differences, Jake found work sweeping out a store and a room to sleep in, and Jake felt adequate in his new life.
One day Jake was sweeping the dirt out of the store and into the street when a young lady happened to walk into the path where the dirt was being swept. She let out a shriek of surprise and Jake apologized several times in one breath while rushing to get a towel to help brush the dirt from her clothing. Jake continued to apologize while knocking the dirt from her clothes, but he never looked at her. If he had, Jake would have seen the womanís eyes staring at him with adoration. He retreated back into the store after helping her as best as he was able, and then into the back room. If Jake had looked out the storeís window, he would have seen the woman still standing in to street for several minutes.
Weeks later Jake was eating his apple lunch outside the store he swept and a woman approached him. She told Jake she was the one who he swept dirt upon and then told him to stop apologizing. She thanked him for being kind enough to help clean her clothes of the dirt. Jake finally looked into eyes as kind as his motherís and finally understood his motherís final lesson: No matter how much it hurts, no matter how discouraged you are, keep looking up.
Copyright © 2004 John Lemut