The Rock

“What are you doin’?”

“You must …ungh… be joking.”

“No. I want to know.”

“What …ungh… does it look like?”

“Pushin’ a rock.”

“Very …ungh… good. Must have …ungh… a brain after all.”

“But why?”

“Listen you …ungh… stupid bird. You …ungh… know damn well why. You ask me …ungh… every day.”

“And you have yet to give me an answer.”

“So why should …ungh… today be any different?”

“You put a lot of effort into this.”

“…ungh…”

“If you’re goin’ to ignore me, I’ll just talk to myself.”

“Please …ungh… don’t.”

“Then answer my question.”

“Why does there …ungh… have to be a …ungh… point?”

“Everythin’s got a point. Nobody does nothin’ without a reason.”

“Okay …ungh… what’s the point …ungh… of you coming here every …ungh… day to ask me?”

“Curiosity.”

“Bull. That’s …ungh… for cats. You’re a crow.”

“Hmmm…”

“See? No …ungh… point.”

“Fine. ‘Cause it’s my job. And it seems to bother you.”

“There. That wasn’t …ungh… so hard, was it?”

“Your turn, rock boy.”

“Just… a… little… more.”

“Tell me!”

“You’re going to want to move.”

“Tell… awww!”

“I told you to move.”

“It’s all the way back at the bottom.”

“I know.”

“Every day?”

“You know already that it is.”

“So why?”

“Follow me. I can’t stand still for long.”

“Huh?”

“The ground burns my feet if I don’t keep moving. That’s one reason, I guess. Pushing the rock cools the ground and keeps me from staying in one place.”

“Why not just sit on the rock? Keep you off the ground.”

“I did, once. But the rock just got hot, too. So I can’t do that for long.”

“And you can’t just walk around…?”

“I told you. Moving the rock keeps the ground cool.”

“Sounds pretty awful to me.”

“That’s what they think, too. That’s why they put me here.”

“But you don’t think it’s awful?”

“No.”

“But why not? It’s the same thin’ over and over.”

“I suppose I could give you the reasons they expect. I’m scheming my hopeless escape. Or maybe I’m deluded enough to think it won’t go back down again some day. But the truth is simpler. I don’t think it’s awful because they want me to think that it is. Stubbornness and spite. So long as I’m happy with myself, my task, their punishment is meaningless.”

“I’m going to have to tell them this.”

“I know.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“I know.”

“But if they believe you, they’ll do somethin’ else to you.”

“I know.”

“Then why tell me?”

“Every day, you have the same task, with the same result. You come here and ask me the same inane questions. You think you’re free. But you’re chained here as much as I am, stuck with the same routine. The only difference is you think you’re free, and I know I’m not. If they don’t believe you, I can continue with my appointed task and spite them by not crumbling under the boredom. If they do believe you, they’ll try something else, and the boredom is alleviated by change, if only briefly. Either way, I win. And you’re still stuck.”

“Hmmm…”

“Well, here is my rock. I assume I’ll see you tomorrow.”

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