Thing had never known a time like it, at least not since he had been on his own. The Spring had slipped into Summer and now the leaves were falling all around the front of the cave. Some of the folks from the town had stopped by on their way to the top of the mountain, some stayed for just a few minutes, some for a several hours, talking about this and that and smoking pipes and stuff. Some folks just hurried by with a ‘howdee’ on their way through.
So he really wasn’t alone and when his mother returned life would go back to the good times. And yet this was the second winter coming that Things was without her and he couldn’t stop hoping she’d be back.
It was on Sunday in early December that one of the walkers mentioned to Thing that there was another like Thing in town. Perhaps his mother was returning just in time for Christmas? He’d have to get the cave real sharp, ‘cause his mother always believed in cleaning and keeping things straight. “There’s a place for everything,” she would tell him.
He quickly cleaned and polished until there wasn’t a speck of dust to be seen. He knew his mother would approve and so he felt safe enough to go down the mountain into town and make sure it was she.
Just beyond the Library was a crowd of people, all standing in the way they used to gather around Thing; back in the days when they were scared of him, that is. But times had changed and people just let him go about his business. So maybe they were welcoming his mother, Thing did something he didn’t usually do, he broke into a run. He could see her head and her arms – people must be welcoming her home.
But it wasn’t his mother, sure it was another like him, but it wasn’t his mother. This was one of his own kind who was being welcomed into town, mainly due to all the hard work and kindness that Thing had shown to the town’s folk.
Maybe this one knew where his mother was - maybe this one had met her on the way here. But the one who looked like Thing didn’t know anything about his mother. Thing just turned away for a spell and sighed and then spun around, smiled and welcomed his new friend into the town.
Thing said there was always a warm corner in his cave for a friend, at least until his family got back. But his new friend said he felt right at home in town and was probably going to stay there.
Sure enough one of the farmers took the other Thing in and let him stay in his barn. Thing was confused, ‘cause surely Things should stick together, since they both knew how the other thought about people and life.
This got Thing down and he went to the back of the cave to sit and talk to his mother, hoping wherever she was, that she could hear him. He said that life had been good for a while but he would have liked to be friends with the one who looked like Thing.
Suddenly a little wind blew in the cave and there was the one who looked like Thing standing at the entrance.
His friend could see that something was bothering Thing and so he asked him what was wrong. Thing told him that he had hoped they would be pals and that he’d stay in the cave, at least until his mother came back.
“You have to live out there,” he said pointing to the world. “That is why we are all here,” said his friend.
And Thing told him of the hurt that he faced when he was out there.
“Sure there are those, the unhappy ones, who are jealous of other’s happiness and maybe from time to time they can hurt you more than you would like. But that is the price of living. That is what makes life worth living. There are good people out there too; I have chosen to live in town even though there may be enemies there, where there are enemies, there are also friends. If you stay in the cave you will never find out.”
And so his friend told him that there were probably souls out there who felt touched by Thing, who wanted to talk to him, to get to know Thing.
“But if you stay up here, you will only know loneliness,” his friend told him. “You can not say who you have inspired or helped just by being you, by persevering. But if you lock yourself away and say you have helped no one, then you are just a sad as those who try to hurt. The universe made you, Thing to live, not to exist in darkness. No one can protect you from all the hurt but that is the price, for in all that madness you will find love in the most unlikely places. And if your mother does not come back then that was her destiny, just as yours is to be happy.”
The two of them sat and talked for the rest of the night and then Thing fell asleep much happier than he had been for the longest time.
When he awoke in the morning he found that his friend had gone and so he looked for him but he was nowhere to be seen. The farmer told Thing that his friend had departed at first light. Then the farmer said that he had left Thing a present.
“I was to tell you it was it was a likeness of the one person who could make you happy,” said the farmer.
bobby stevenson 2013