The story of the world is the story of the water and the stone.

They were here before the plants and the creatures and it was their world. But they were not friends.

The water was quick and curious, rushing down hills to find the lowest paths, and floating across the sky to see the world from above. The stone was steady and patient, ignoring the dance of the water while he carefully built his mountains.

When the stone built a mountain high enough to look across the world, the water became jealous, and covered all the peaks in snow so it would not have to share the view. The stone had his revenge by opening a great trench in the bottom of the sea and trapping the water where there was no sun.

The raging water threw itself at the shore, pulling bits of rock into the waves and slowly reducing great cliffs to nothing. But the stone was patient, collecting in grains of sand at the bottom of the sea until he could push the earth up and create a desert where no water could go.

The water created great blocks of ice to carve the mountains to pieces over the slow years, while the stone built islands with fire, sharp peaks scattered across the seas like the stars in the sky.

And so they struggled over years beyond count, long after they had forgotten why.

They never bothered with the little creatures that came and went so quickly. The water was never jealous of the birds for sharing the sky, and the stone didn’t mind when the people dug their holes. The water and the stone lived beyond the reach of such things.

And then time turned, and the little creatures began to leave the world just as they had come, one by one, until finally it was once again just the water and the stone.

But with the turning of time, the world became hot, and the water could no longer make ice. It rushed across the land, turning the continents into vast archipelagos. The water was glad, and felt that it had the upper hand at last. But the water was wrong.

In the rising heat, the water began falling into the sky, never to return, and slowly it began to disappear. The water was afraid, but it was too proud to let the stone see, so it put on a brave face as it slowly drew back its shores. The stone was glad, for he felt he had the upper hand at last. And the stone was right.

The mighty seas became lakes surrounded by jagged peaks. The stone stretched toward the sky and looked out across the world that was his. He watched the lakes shrink as the water left the world until there were just a few scattered ponds, and then eventually none at all.

The stone was alone for the first time. But rather than rejoice at his triumph and throw more mountains to the sky, he simply looked at the empty spaces around him where water had once been, remembering the water’s antics, and the great wars they had fought.

The stone stretched and rumbled over the slow years until time turned again and the world became cold. The stone thought the water would now return, and they would continue their dance. He thought of the valleys he would build to trap the water, and remembered the tingle of ice on his mountain peaks.

But the water did not return. The stone remained in the world alone, and slowly his thoughts wandered, and he stopped building his mountains, and for the very first time he felt cold.

He was tired, and felt himself going to sleep, and this made him afraid, because he had never gone to sleep. But he remembered how his friend the water had been brave when it left the world, and this brought the stone great comfort as he drifted off.

Michael Long writes to get the stories out of his own head and into yours. This completes the transaction.

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Every Day Fiction