Ned Erickson

Sitting by the Fire

We were sitting by the fire in the room he called the den. I remember it vividly: the embers beating like a heart, their sleepy hiss, the orange glow dimming in Grandpa’s cloudy eyes as he finished his incredible story, the one I’m about to tell you.

     He believed every word. “When you experience something of that magnitude you find yourself capable of many things,” he explained. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t believe it right away. Nothing like that has ever happened to me. Not that my experience changes things. It’s just, at some point you may begin to wonder if this is all made up. I did. When I heard it, I wondered. Even with the proof right here before me, I still find it hard to believe. 

But now that I’ve finally sat down to write, I realize how foolish it’s been to let my doubts get in the way. After all, though the outcome affects me, the story isn’t mine.

It’s not even Grandpa’s for that matter. It’s Clay’s. He’s the hero in Grandpa’s tale. That’s the unbelievable part. You see, before Clay was made, he was just that – a lump of clay. And I guess you could say he was made at the beginning. He was made of clay, which is really just another word for mud, which isn’t really a nice thing to call anybody (even when it’s accurate). What’s important to note is that, to Grandpa, Clay was real. He could twist, jump, stretch, roll, walk, talk and whistle, just like you and me.        

​ Now, I imagine that some of you are thinking: how can a piece of clay do that? That’s impossible! Well, that’s exactly what I thought, too, until I came to realize that was the point Grandpa was trying to make. What happened is rather hard to believe.