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I wrote this story a few years ago. I once had an earlier version printed in a small free local paper (Dec 2001 ). Other than that it has never been published. If you want to print it off or pass it along thats fine with me. My only request is that you not remove my name and copywrite and no fee or profit should be collected by you for this story.

It is a parable of sorts. Everything in it is a symbol for something bigger. It contains hidden meanings. Those of you with a Christian background may recognize some of the characters and phrases.

I hope you enjoy it. Your comments and interpretations are welcome. Just please keep in mind that this is an amateur piece of work. I'm not a professional writer.

story to follow in next reply.
 

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The Groundskeeper

By Joanne Labuz

..

I said in my heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth the beasts: even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other: yea, they all have one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. Ecclesiastes 3:18-19

..

Seth had expected the crash. What he had not expected was the scream. It would echo forever in his mind, but by the time the heart wrenching bleat reached his ears, it was too late. Fate had been sealed by his oversight.

It had been midmorning when the old man had made his way across the field toward the dying tree. It had been struck by lightning several years ago. At first, Seth had believed that the tree could endure, but as time wore on, the limbs began to die one by one. At last, Seth had been forced to admit to himself that if he did not bring down the tree, nature soon would. Unfortunately, if nature brought down the tree, there was a good chance it would fall upon the stone wall.

\tSeth successfully cut down the tree and it did not land on the wall. It landed on a fawn.

\tIgnoring the dead twigs that scratched at his face, Seth scrambled through the branches of the fallen tree to the spot where the fawn had been hiding in the tall grass.

\tI didnt see you, He tried to explain to the bleating creature. I didnt mean to hurt you. I didnt see you. Franticly he began to chop away at the branches that pinned down the frightened animal. I didnt see you, He repeated, I was just trying to save the wall.

\tThe wall had been built by Seths father, and as a child, Seth had listened to the story of the wall many times. The tale began many years ago when Seths mother was young and impulsive. That was in the time before her eyes became sad and dead. Somebody had dared her to steal fruit from the garden, and the lord of the manor had discovered her crime. Despite his anger, the lord allowed Seths parents to keep their jobs as groundskeepers. The garden, however, was declared off limits to everyone. In an effort to redeem the family name, Seths father had built the wall and several buildings. He hoped that if he proved his skill, intelligence, and determination, the indiscretion in the garden would be overlooked. Over the years the garden became overgrown and forgotten. Seth was not even sure where it had been located. The wall, on the other hand, had withstood the test of time.

\tIt was this very same wall that Seth had been trying to save that morning. Now as the sun beat down from above, the wall was quickly pushed to the back of Seths mind. As he threw aside the last of the restraining branches, he could see how futile the rescue attempt had been. The fawn had stopped crying and lay trembling among the wood chips. Its back was bent at an odd angle and with each rapid, shallow breath it exhaled a crimson spray. Its frightened eyes darted back and forth, then came to rest on Seth; questioning.

\tIm sorry, He choked as he fell to his knees, It was an accident. I didnt know you were there. Seth had seen animals die before. In fact, after the incident in the garden, his family had been forced to hunt for food. For Seth, it was the way things had always been; the only way he had ever known, but this was different. This young creatures life had been futile. Its death would be meaningless. For reasons he could not yet fully grasp, Seth was filled with despair for the helpless animal. Im sorry, He kept repeating in a raspy, tear filled voice, I didnt mean to hurt you. I was just trying to do my job.

Seth had never applied for the job of groundskeeper. He had inherited it. His father had been the original groundskeeper and it was once believed that Seths older brothers would someday take over the job. Both brothers were gone now, and when Seth was born, he accepted his role unquestioningly. \t

Like many of the other servants, Seth had never met the lord of the manor in person. He did not visit the manor as frequently as he did when Seths parents worked there. In fact, Seth was not sure if he worked for his parents employer or his son. Despite this, Seth strove to be an honest hard working employee. On that fateful morning, Seth thought it would please the lord of the manor to know that he was preserving the beautiful wall that his father had built.

The wall was meaningless now as Seth knelt next to the fawn. It had closed its eyes and its breathing was becoming feint. He stayed by its side as the hours passed; stroking its fur. Forgive me, he whispered repeatedly, Forgive me.

Slowly, Seth began to realize there was someone else he needed to ask for forgiveness. She was standing at the edge of the meadow. She must have been hiding in the outskirts of the forest when the tree fell, and she had seen the whole thing. \t\t

Im sorry. Im so sorry. It was an accident.

The doe stared blankly back at him. She stared at her dying fawn and the death seeped into her eyes. She stared at Seth with her sad dead eyes. A knot formed in Seths stomach. He had seen those eyes before. They looked like his mothers eyes. He wondered if his apologies sounded as empty to the doe as his brothers apologies had once sounded to his mother. What had his brother said on that tragic day? Seth imagined his brothers voice echoing back through time.

Im sorry, Mother. My brother is dead. Im sorry, Mother, but I must leave now. Im sorry Mother, but I must live the life of a fugitive vagabond. Im sorry, Mother. Im sorry. Im so sorry. You can always have another son.

She did have another son. Seth grew up in the shadow of his brothers legacy. He could never understand what could be so horrible as to pit one brother against another. He swore he would never strike out in anger. He swore there would never be blood on his hands; yet, here he sat with blood on his hands.

Forgive me. Seth begged to the doe. The doe could not speak, but Seth could hear her eyes speaking.

What hast thou done?

It was an accident. Seth whispered.

Are you a beast?

Im not a beast. It was an accident. He hung his head, no longer able to look into those eyes.

Your mother will be heartbroken. He could hear the eyes even though he wasnt looking at them. The voice of thy brothers blood crieth unto me from the ground.

I didnt kill my bother. I wasnt even born yet. He cried.

The blood is on your hands

But.. It is not my brothers blood, He whimpered in a confused voice.

Did your father not name us? Were we not created by the same Father?

It was an accident. He pleaded.

The lord of the manor will be disappointed in you.

It wasnt my fault.

You are the groundskeeper. You are responsible for all the animals. You are responsible for taking care of the grounds of the manor.

I never asked to be groundskeeper.

You claim you are not a beast. You do not wish to live as a beast. You are the groundskeeper.

But I never asked to be groundskeeper

But you accepted the role

I never asked for it.

You accepted the role, and with acceptance comes accountability.

Seth lifted his head and looked into the eyes of the doe. He could see they were telling the truth. In those eyes Seth could see the possibilities of unborn generations. He looked back down at the fawn. It sighed, gave a final shudder and became still. Seth looked at his hands. The blood of the world was on them. He began to sob uncontrollably. He did not realize that the story of his parents and his brothers would become legendary. He did not realize that his own name would only be briefly mentioned in a few short verses in the book of life. What he did realize was the true reason for his grief.

It was almost dusk when Enos found his father sitting among the branches of a fallen tree. In his arms he held the broken body of a dead fawn. He looked up with a tear stained face and at first Enos thought his father was going to offer some explanation. The words he spoke, however, made little sense.

Go home and tell your children, and tell them to tell their children, and tell them to tell all that follow. It is important that we remember. It is important that we never forget

Enos was not listening to his father. The man was upset; possibly injured. He was delusional. Enos did not hear the warning his father gave him. He did not pass the words on to his children and grandchildren.

Many years later, Moses wrote down the story of Adam and Eve and the garden. . He wrote down the story of Cain and Abel and the horrible murder. The story of the Seth and the fawn had been forgotten. The warning Seth gave to his son was forever lost in the passages of time. Millennia passed and, when the last of the brothers had fought, the last fawn laid motionless upon the earth near the ruins of an ancient wall. Across the eons, Seths words of wisdom echoed unheeded upon the dust of an empty planet.

We must be careful. We are not only our brothers keepers. We are the groundskeepers.

copyright 2001 -2008 Joanne Labuz
 
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