Author's Note:This little drabble was first an assignment, so do forgive the washing machine. It was a requirement I fear. ;) Do enjoy the oddness! Feedback is appreciated as always. Life's Like That – A Fable
Switzerland had gone cold again, much too soon for the likes of those dwelling in the higher regions – which would be just about the entire population. It would be quite understandable if the reader assumed upon the location, that the house in which the story revolves was made of plaster, or at least something of the woodier stock. But poor Thomas, the lad that lived in the hut with his aging mother, made his bed under the slanting roof of a straw hut.
Life's Like That – A Fable
Now, it is important to understand that Thomas had never had a very large family. Why? Tactfully, one might say that this due to an insufficiency on the part of Thomas' genes. Oh, not his genes specifically, but the genes passed to him by his father, and his father's father, all the way back to the first of Thomas' most distant relations, Adam - the same Adam that so foolishly took the fruit from Eve. It is unfortunate to say that it was believed that the not-so-bright impulses which – beside sin – prompted Adam to partake of the fruit, had been quite singularly inherited eventually down to one Horashio Smigergolf (in whom a great allotment of dim-wittedness was pooled) became evident by curse, or magic, or coincidence. This still, however, does not shed very much light on the lack of Thomas' relations, though it is probable that the reader begins to form their own theories.
Stupidity is a painful burden to bear, quite literally, and to remain gracious it is enough to say that in great doses, mortality often resulted due to some mishap. However, by blessing or ill-fate, each heir of the unfortunate trait managed to live just long enough to produce another heir.
Such had been the fate of Thomas' father, leaving him and his mother alone in a badly erected straw hut with but a dog and a high-tech washing machine (a birthday gift from a dim-wit brother who hadn't the sense to even imagine his brother was perhaps not intelligent enough to work the special features – not to mention the lack of indoor plumbing). This pattern had gone on for a good many hundreds of years. So Thomas, well aware of his inevitable fate, feared not much in youth.
He lived happily with few cares, running bare-foot in wild circles about the one roomed hut. Thomas had re-discovered earlier that day that doing so outside in the mounting snow tended to hurt the skin of his feet. It is said 're-discovered' since he had found out that same novelty on the yestereve, but had that morning forgotten this tid-bit of knowledge.
The dog was a fat creature, lolling for hours in companionship with the washing machine. Thomas, who sat upon the contraption, looked down at where the dog now lay beneath his feet, tongue dangling from the side of his mouth and lying plastered to the floor in a growing pool of saliva. Beside Thomas, sat a cockroach – at least, Thomas thought he was sitting, one never can tell with a bug. It was not a very impressive cockroach, hardly an inch in length. But what it lacked in size, it made up for in importance.
Despite the stereotype of little boys, Thomas was not particularly fond of the dog below him. Indeed one could hardly blame him, for the dog, no matter how kind his heart, was a dull creature. His days of youth were long past and it could be reasoned that he had spent so much of those younger years worrying over the boy, that his behavior was quite justified.
The cockroach however – he was another matter.
Thomas' mother often wondered what attraction a cockroach held. One could not pet a cockroach's fur, nor frolic in the fields (when not frozen over), nor even look into its multifaceted eyes and wonder at the simplicity found there. This did not hinder Thomas' one sided love of his dearest friend, Roach.
Roach had lived long in the hut with the widow, her son, the dog and the washing machine while making his home beneath the latter. It was a good life for one such as himself, but like the boy, his ultimate end was preordained by his breed. Insects were not meant to die by natural means of old age, this was the hard truth. In some crevasse of his tiny brain, Roach probably knew this by instinct. But this a fable, the reader cries in indignation, a story of happy endings and pink bunnies in sunlight!
Alas, dear reader, this is a fable of tragedy – and most likely the story itself is much shorter than the prerequisite.
As earlier stated, Winter had come knocking in her pure white gown, though her beauty was unappreciated by her hosts. So rather than the fields and town streets, Thomas took to releasing his energy indoors, running in circles and singing odd shanties all the while. Never advisable would this be in a one roomed hut with a dog to trip over, a mother to exasperate, and a very small, indefensible cockroach.
The day was Wednesday and the boy had been kept from school by Winter's visit. It was to a white land had he awoken. With a laugh he had danced from the window. Shaking his mother to dim awareness, he cried "No school, Mother! I shall remain here all the long day to entertain you and Roach."
Dear Mother tried to put on a smile while her eyes were still half lidded in sleep; maybe today would be the day she'd be able to teach her son logic. Every morning she had hoped the curse of her husband's family would be suppressed, and with due diligence she had labored to instill logic in her son's less-than-par mind. "Someday," she'd sigh, "someday…"
But someday was not today.
The morning had progressed with the usual rituals. Breakfast was consumed and Mother read from an old leather book with LOGIC embossed across the front in faded, gold lettering. The book was an heirloom of sorts, passed down by the [mostly] widowed wives of Thomas' family line. Apparently, it lacked affect since no men were left to show results. Still, Mother persisted despite Thomas' glazed eyes as he sat, hunched and blank faced before her with Dog draped across his feet.
When at last the book closed, the dull filter over Thomas' eyes lifted. Springing from his seat he announced, "I shall now do my exercises." Exercises he called them because once he had seen a picture in a large book of fat foreign children doing such things with a caption beneath reading so. It was such a large and important sounding word (to him) he had adopted it with vigor and applied it to his hobby of running in circles about the hut.
And to that he took immediately after the reading. Dog moaned and Mother sighed. Roach gave no utterance from where he sat beneath the washing machine, but began to skitter across the hut floor to where he spotted a morsel.
This was the beginning of Roach's doom.
From Roach's perspective, a horrifying experience it was with feet falling right and left, seeming there were a great many more than two. But greed is a motivator even in fear. If bugs are capable of adrenaline, then Roach was shot with a dose worthy of a cow – if cows are capable of adrenaline.
Thomas, oblivious to the mortal dance playing beneath his own dancing feet, pranced on. Harder to believe, he didn't even feel the crunching squelch as Roach missed a move in the dance, but a three lengths from the crumb.
Life's like that, it is said.
Yes, poor Roach. He had lived a full life, but his time had come at last. Poor Thomas, who hadn't yet a notion nor would 'til at last he stopped his exercise and went in a vain search for his 'roach.
How Thomas searched. High and low, beneath, on top of and inside the high-tech washing machine, all around the wood stove – burning his hand while checking the griddle – around the table and chairs; he even rolled Dog across the room in case Roach had become lost in his fur (though what good this would do but squish him against the floor). Still, Roach was nowhere to be found.
Evening came on and Mother was napping near the heat of the stove. Thomas had not found Roach - nor his remains.
The Sun departed, casting her last rays to glorify Winter's dominion. Thomas paid no heed, he searched on for Roach. Not until the stars came out and Sir Moon arose from his slumber beneath the hills did Thomas happen upon what was left of the cockroach. On hands and knees he crouched over the little glop of matter, wondering with pinched brow.
"Mother," says he, "Mother, awake."
Groggily, poor Mother awoke and hobbled to her son's side. She gave a little sigh at the sight that greeted her and placing a hand on her son's shoulder, she prepared herself to give consolation.
But Thomas did not cry, instead he declared, "Mother, I do believe it is the spoonful of jelly you dropped this last summer! How can it be Dog did not find it?"
Mother, for once, was glad of Thomas's genes.
And so, Thomas never did find out what happened to Roach and it is unanimous that this fate was the most preferable. Winter came and went, but she, having watched through the frosted panes of the hut windows did not depart without a gift.
Roach the Second, son of Roach the Original came to be born in a floorboard and when first he crawled into the daylight of the hut, Thomas took him as his own. Unbeknownst to Thomas, Roach the Original was not a he.
So perhaps, looking back, the story is not a tragedy – but the lesson is still to be learned: Do not frolic in one roomed huts, and listen to the book of Logic lest your closest friends suffer.