Stones

Long ago in an enchanted wood, a Dragon wound its body through the trees, feeling the sunlight sparkle over his red and golden scales. He had been traveling the world and seen many different places, but he was getting tired and sought the dappled shade of the forest. Along the way, he saw a Crow ambling on the ground. The Crow’s wings were dragging behind him and his head was bowed. This made the dragon wonder, so he stopped the Crow. “You’re a creature of the air,” the Dragon said, “why do you walk instead of fly?”

The Crow lifted his head slowly, the tip of his beak scratching a line in the dirt. “I cannot fly. I have a stone in my heart. It weighs me down me keeps me earthbound.”

“How did it get there?”

The Crow sighed and closed his eyes. “I put it there.”

This puzzled the Dragon — a bird not being able to fly must be very sad indeed. “Why?”

“Because I did something very bad and it put a stone in the Kitten’s heart. She was my friend. So I put the same stone in my own heart and now I cannot fly.”

The Dragon frowned. It was plain to see how much the Crow was filled with sorrow and how much his stone weighed on him. The Crow went on, “So many others put stones in her heart already. She sank in the pool not far from here. I can’t even see her anymore because she’s so far under the water.”

“If I promise to visit the Kitten,” the Dragon said, “will you try to put down your stone?”

“What if I can’t?”

The wise Dragon smiled, “You should not carry your stone forever. It will do you no good and will right no wrongs. But you can learn from it. Besides, if she is a good friend she would not want you to carry such a weight.”

“She was,” the Crow whispered. He gestured with his head, “The pool is beyond that tree line, just down the hill.” Leaving the Dragon behind, the Crow plodded along with his wings trailing limply behind him.

It wasn’t long before the Dragon came to the place beyond the trees. A waterfall fed into the pool and it was clear to the bottom. It was not so deep for a dragon, but for a small creature it was quite far from the surface. He saw the Kitten with her head hung and tiny shoulders slumped and called out to her from the mossy bank. “Little Kitten,” he said, “why are you at the bottom of the water? You should be playing in the sunshine.”

The Kitten looked up at the Dragon above and mewed, “I can’t. I have many stones in my heart. When I stopped here to drink, they made me sink and now I cannot get out again.”

“Your friend the Crow said he gave you one of those stones,” the Dragon said, “and that he is very sorry.” He was confused when she turned away and began to cry. “Little Kitten,” he asked, “why does this make you weep so?”

“Many others put stones in my heart,” she said. “For so long I haven’t been able to chase little bugs through the tall grass. I call and call for them to take the stones back, but no one hears me. Now that I am under the water, no one sees me and I cannot even feel the sun on my fur anymore.” She started to cry even harder.

The wise Dragon closed his eyes and shook his head, feeling much pity for the Kitten. “If you expect others to take back the stones they gave you, you will be forever at the bottom of this pond. It will take time, but you must decide how much longer you will carry someone else’s weight.”

“Is…is it ok?” she looked up at the Dragon, shimmering from the other side of the water. “May I put the stones down now?”

“Yes,” he replied. “They were never yours to bear for so long. They serve you no good.”

Her whiskers started to tremble. “I did a bad thing.”

“What could you possibly have done to deserve being weighed and drowned?” the Dragon asked.

“I gave the Crow a stone, like mine, but it’s so heavy he can’t fly anymore. It’s all my fault. These stones keep me under the water and I can’t tell him how sorry I am.” The Kitten buried her face in her paws and wept, sending tiny bubbles floating to the surface of the pond.

“Your friend is not angry with you,” the Dragon said. “He carries his own stone, it is true, but he is learning to set it down and one day he will fly again. You must do the same. If you do, you will float to the top.” He smiled. “Then maybe one day you can walk through the tall grass and sit in the sunlight together.”

“What if he can’t forgive me?” she asked. “What if he hates me because the stone is too heavy?”

The Dragon nodded. “It’s possible. But even so, without all those other stones in your heart, you’ll still be free. Isn’t that worth something?”

She looked up once more. “I’ll try.”

It was time for the Dragon to move on. He knew the Crow and the Kitten wouldn’t be able to set down their stones in one day, but he was hopeful that soon that day would come. As he looked back over his shoulder at the pool, the Dragon caught a glimpse of a tiny nose and whiskers breaking the surface of the water.

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