Once upon a time there was a lump of clay in a river bed. And every day the lump of clay would wish to be a Something. A Something new and beautiful. And every night it would dream of the day someone would come along and make it so. And so a year passed. And another. And another. And the lump of clay continued to be ugly and unshaped and unloved.
The lump of clay sat where it was placed. In the cold and damp of the earth. It waited for the heat of the sun and the chill of the breeze. It wondered what it would be to have form and shape. What it would be to move and be moved. And so a year passed. And another. And another. And the lump of clay continued to be ugly and unshaped and unloved.
Then one day Someone came along and changed the lump of clay in to a Something. They kneaded and rolled and pulled and changed. They smoothed away the lumps and rolled out long, smooth legs and pulled in a minuscule waist. They gave her breasts and hair and carved her face to make her smile. And the lump of clay was no longer ugly and unshaped. It was a Something and the Something was Woman.
Woman lived with Someone, in a house with a garden and brick walls. She felt the heat of the sun and the chill of a spring breeze. She tasted food and wine and mortality. She slept in Someone’s bed and did as Someone asked. She was moulded into the life of Someone. Made in Someone’s image. And so a year passed. And another. And another. And Woman continued to be beautiful and shapely and unloved.
Someone taught Woman to speak. Her lips were opened, her tongue set free. She said the things that Someone said and spoke when she was told. She could say thank you and please and yes and good and really? Then Woman began to speak alone. She sang in the afternoons and whispered in the night. She spoke when she chose and not in answer to a question. Woman learnt new words. No. Stop. And Someone was not happy because Woman had not been made to say no. So Someone went to work again until Woman’s moulded smile was fixed in place and her moulded tongue was still. And so a year passed. And another. And another. And still Woman was beautiful and shapely and unloved.
One day Woman thought- I would like to see the world – and she walked down the garden and out of the gate. She saw the river and its banks, the birds and the sky, and people she had never seen before. And when she returned Someone was waiting and Someone was not happy because Woman, made in Someone’s image, was not supposed to have her own thoughts. So Someone went to work again and re-shaped and re-rolled and re-smoothed until Woman became the shape Someone wanted. Ornament.
Ornament was set in the corner by the window in the house with a garden and brick walls. It did not speak, it did not move. It only watched as Someone went about their life. Motionless it watched and watched. One day a new Woman was brought to the house and it watched her too. Never speaking. And so a year passed. And another. And another. And Ornament was beautiful and shapely and unloved.
One summer’s day Ornament, set in the corner by the window in the heat of the sun, began to droop. The sun’s rays were fierce and unrelenting. Ornament stood for hours. It did not complain because it did not have a mouth. It did not move because it did not have feet. No one thought of Ornament. As the day wore on it wilted and shrunk, smaller and smaller. Nobody thought of her. Nobody noticed until Someone trod in the lump of clay which had been Ornament. With a noise of disgust Someone turned their foot up to scrape off the clay, then, gathering up the rest, carried it outside and threw it back to the river.
The lump of clay was nothing again. And yet It was not a nothing for it had been a Something.
And the lump of clay remembered what it was to be a Nothing and wept.