Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Entry #8

March 30th, 2009 by Wordsman



Theodore looked up at his sister.  He did not appear relieved in any way, as if he had failed to realize that they had been separated for hours, possibly never to see each other again.  It figured.  Abigail had been wandering through the woods, hearing voices and narrowly avoiding fights with miscreants, and all that time her brother had just been standing there serenely, staring at . . . a bunch of paper cranes?  She was going to berate him for his lack of concern, but as she approached she couldn’t help but get drawn in as well.

“Wow,” she said softly, her eyes drifting up and down the long rainbow line of tiny folded birds.  “I’ve never seen so many of these before.  There must be thousands of them!”

“There are exactly fifty-two thousand three hundred thirty-seven,” her brother responded promptly.  “I counted.”

Abigail rolled her eyes.  If he had been standing there long enough to individually count over fifty thousand cranes, then the mountain shrine was not only a Bermuda Triangle but a time warp as well.  The number didn’t even make sense.  As far as she had ever heard, you only got something for making a thousand cranes, so what would be the point of hanging up three hundred thirty-seven of them?

“Do you suppose these were all made by the same person?” she asked suddenly.

Theodore’s brow furrowed.  “It seems unlikely,” he said, either thinking hard or pretending to think hard.  “Given that the world record speed for folding one hundred cranes is just over seventy-eight minutes, these cranes represent a sum total of thirty-two days of crane folding at the very least.  That’s without any breaks for eating, sleeping, or going to the bathroom, of course.”  He turned toward his sister.  “Why do you ask?”

“Well . . .,” she began hesitantly.  The idea was utter nonsense, but there comes a time in any dire situation when a person is desperate enough to try anything, no matter how ridiculous.  “You know how they say that if you have a thousand cranes you get to make a wish?  That’s fifty-two wishes up there, and . . . I mean, what person could possibly need to make fifty-two wishes?  So, I was just thinking we could maybe, you know, borrow one.  So that we can get out of here.”  Her voice slowly trailed off throughout the entire speech, meaning that it was extremely unlikely that anyone was able to hear the last fragment.  Anyone human, anyway.

Theodore frowned.  “I don’t think it works that way,” he said.  “I believe that the power is imparted into the cranes through the act of folding, not simply by possessing them.  I doubt that the Gods would want to reward someone who simply came along and stole someone else’s hours of hard work just so she could reap all the benefits.”

Abigail wanted to shout that it didn’t really work the other way either, and that the whole concept of granting wishes was preposterous, but instead she just fumed, angry at herself for even having suggested such foolishness.  She had only said it because she wanted to get out and go home so very badly.  Abigail was starving, her legs were starting to twitch uncontrollably from having walked so much, and the sun would be going down soon, unless time really had stopped while they were inside the shrine.  This idea seemed significantly less impossible after having walked through the endless tunnel of gates, surrounded by the forest that had been, with a few notable exceptions, completely silent.  Her watch was still going, but she supposed that that could just be a trick to get her to think that everything was normal when in fact it was most definitely not.

“Okay,” she said, once fuming time was over.  “Do you have a better idea of how we can find our way out of this place?”

Her brother shrugged.  “It could be difficult,” he said, still without even a hint of worry.  “I lost my map a long time ago.  It was snatched from my very hand by the breath of—”

“Of the Fox God,” Abigail interrupted.  “Yes, I remember.”  She wished she could forget.  “Have you seen anyone around here that we might be able to ask?”  Abigail knew that asking for directions in a foreign country, especially directions as complicated as the ones leading out of the shrine would surely have to be, was generally a long, awkward, fruitless process, but she was still willing to try anything at that point.

He shook his head.  “I have seen no one and heard no one.”

“Yeah,” she agreed.  The only people she had run across since they split up had not seemed like the type to know their way around the place, and she doubted very much that she would run into them again anyway.  “So, since no better options have presented themselves, we’re going to use . . . use the power of the cranes,” she finished lamely, unable to believe that she was actually saying this.

“I still don’t think it will work,” her brother said.

“Really?” she asked, annoyed.  “You of all people are going to be skeptical?”

“Using the wishing cranes for purposes other than their original intended one could result in serious consequences.”

“Well we’re doing it anyway,” Abigail declared with surprising firmness.  “Make a wish.”  She faced the cranes, closed her eyes, and wished that they would be able to find their way back to their hotel.  Then, just to be safe, she clicked her heels three times and whispered, “There’s no place like home.”

“So do you really believe that this is going to work?” Theodore asked a few moments later.

Abigail opened her eyes.  She hesitated over his used of the word “believe.”  “All I know is the Fox God owes me one,” she said.  She turned around, picked a path, and walked toward it with her best attempt at confidence.

Posted in Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? | No Comments »

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.