The Envelope, Please



Lucius and Marcellus looked up at the tiny disc of light from the bottom of the well. It was very dark down there, and the cold water was about their ankles. The sides of the well were slick, and there was no way to climb out.  They had already tried several times and failed. There was certainly no ladder to be had.

Lucius was leaning against the side of the well, his fingers threaded and resting on his head. Lucius lowered his hands and looked at his friend, “Do you remember the story of the crow and the pitcher?”

Marcellus replied, “I think so, … where are you going with this?”

“We cannot climb out, but maybe we can rise just the same. I have an idea,” Lucius replied, and snapped his fingers.

A large white envelope appeared in his hand, and Lucius opened it.

“What are you going to do with that?” Marcellus asked.

“I am going to lighten the load, so to speak. First, I’m going to enclose my complaint about being down here.” Lucius concentrated for a moment, and the envelope swelled in size, and became so big so quickly that it slipped from his hands into the water with a giant splash.  The level of the water rose up to their armpits as the envelope sank.

“Uh, Lucius, I am not so sure this is a good idea,” Marcellus said, looking down a bit nervously.

“Patience, friend.” Lucius whistled this time, and a second envelope appeared in his hand. “Now, I am going to deposit my doubts about the efficacy of the method.” Again, the envelope swelled, and Lucius cast it on the water, and it quickly sank. The water rose again, and now they were floating. They were closer, however slightly, to the light.

“Lucius, I can’t tread water forever,” Marcellus gasped. He was rather out of shape after all.

“Stop fighting it, just roll on your back and relax,” Lucius replied, taking the new position. Marcellus did, and stretched his arms away from his sides, and began to breath in and out slowly.

“Ok, your turn, Marcellus.”

Marcellus closed his eyes, and an instant later an envelope appeared between his clenched teeth.

“Mmmm, mmmf, hffmmf, mmelf, hrmm, mrmm.”

“What? Speak up Marcellus!” Lucius laughed.

He spit out the envelope, which sank like a stone. “I said, I put inside my question about why I am the way that I am. The one that’s been bugging me all my life. You know what I mean, Lucius.”

“I do. Well done, friend.  I think the water level rose a lot with that one.” And it was true, the light at the top of the well was noticeably bigger.

“Why is this working?” Marcellus asked.

“We bring a lot of self-centered questions, doubts and complaints to our contemplation of the light. Its not wrong that we do that. But after we’ve raised them,  we need to hand them over once and for all. If you don’t, its like walking around with a big armful of packages that you never set down. You can’t see where you are going.”

Lucius continued. “He will answer our questions and complaints at the time of his choosing. If we keep complaining about the same thing over and over, doesn’t that show a lack of trust? There’s nothing wrong with his hearing. And there’s lots of other things to talk about … giving thanks … other people.”

The two friends took turns after that, summoning an envelope and enclosing old questions, doubts and complaints, and then letting them go. With each one, the water rose higher, and before long they reached the top of the well. They climbed out, Lucius helping the weaker Marcellus to dry land.

The light was very bright up here, and the surroundings were beautiful.

“And we can contemplate this view for as long as we live?” Marcellus asked.

“We can. We just have to keep the weight off, or we might slip back in.”

“Remind me, Lucius, how did the story of the crow and the pitcher end?”

“When the water reached the top, the crow drank until he was full. And I’d like to think he was never thirsty again.”



Leave a comment

Filed under Short Fiction

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s