A story beginning "I didn't know it was made out of butter..." in less than 500 words.

The Quiet Stones

By Debra Di Blasi

I didn’t know it was made out of butter.  After all, when most people think of a country they picture land—mountains or shores, deserts or fields.  They consider a solid place that will continue far beyond their staccato lives, into a future as mysterious as the gaps between stars.  When the country elected me leader, it did not clear its throat and say, “Oh and by the way, that’s butter under your feet. Tread carefully.” 

So I built my government heavy and close, planted a new flag deep.  I drew the poor boys away from the yellow plains and gave them black boots and metal ordnance, told them to march right off the edge of my vision.  I locked the girls safe at home. In their unforeseeable boredom they began knitting blankets of fistfuls of hanks.  At night, all night, clattering needles lit the darkness with sparks.  And when the bulldozers set their steel plows low to clear pathways to the future, the scent of hot diesel haunted the birds of new glens.  I rejoiced.

Then, one day, ordinary and light, history began.  A stone sank.  And I can say now, with the confidence of hindsight, that it is never the ones you suspect—not the granite or travertine, galena or quartz.  Rather, a quiet stone out among the scrub.  Inconsequential.  Except to the old woman who expected to meet it on her to-and-fro walks.  A recurring how-d’you-do nod, that stone, awash with phenomenal beauty even as it eroded toward dust.  But it sank first.  With something less than a sigh.  And the old woman was moved by its going.

As we are all moved, now, by the sinking of stones.  The sinking of me in my masterpiece, my great idea, my single glory built on a country melting now under the weight and heat of my grabbling hands.