Week 2 Story: Mud and Flesh
There once was a little girl named Maya who lived with her family at the edge of the wood. The forest surrounding the cottage they called home was lush and extended as far as the eye could see. Maya loved weaving through the trees and wandering between the twists and turns of the brambles. But although she felt at home in the forest, she always wished for a playmate to explore with her. There were no other children for miles.
One day Maya decided to create her own playmate. She gathered sticks and leaves, and grasses and mud, and slowly layered the elements of the earth together to create the image of a young girl. She stacked the sticks as sturdy bones, wove the leaves and grasses together as delicate tendons and muscles, and smoothed the mud over the exterior. She found two shiny black pebbles that she pressed gently into the mud for eyes, laid a soft bed of moss for hair.
Maya adored her new friend. She sat with the earthen girl for hours beneath the trees in the forest, telling her stories and making up worlds for them to explore together. Maya picked bouquets of wildflowers that she arranged in a crown, and mashed a paste of wild berries that she used to paint her new friend’s lips.
A thought occurred to Maya one afternoon. It would soon be the rainy season, and she had nowhere to shelter the earthen girl. As the days passed, Maya grew increasingly anxious. She searched high and low for a suitable home for her friend, but all the hollowed trees and rocky alcoves had already been claimed by the animals of the forest; they too knew that the rain was coming.
The next day the sky began to darken. Maya turned towards the gray expanse and pleaded with the gathering clouds, asking them to hold off until she could find a place for her friend to stay. She felt a raindrop land her skin and began to cry. A teardrop landed on her friend, and as the water rolled over the mud it left a trail of flesh in its wake. The earthen frame slowly transformed to the body of a child; the sticks hardened into bone, the leaves the grasses thickened into tendon and muscle, and the mud melted into the soft skin of a young girl. And as the mighty sky cracked open, the two girls danced together in the pouring rain.
I loved the idea that a companion treated like a human could eventually turn into a human with the qualities idealized in their previous form. Rather than write a romantic take as in the story of Pygmalion, I opted to introduce children as the protagonists for this story. Children have wild imaginations, and oftentimes create imaginary friends for themselves. Rather than keeping this friend imaginary, however, Maya goes a step further and creates a physical companion from the forest around her. In this way her new friend grows out of the forest, the only friend she has ever known.
Before they came alive. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Pygmalion from Metamorphoses, translated by Tony Kline. Web Source.