by thefourpartland

And upon a hill stood a moonlit guardian, bathed in eternal night. It was marble, of a certain hue, weathered and old. Where an arm had once reached into the sky there was nought but a broken stump, and the arm was nowhere to be found.

The statue had lived here for oh these many years, and upon its brow was stamped words in a language long forgotten. Their edges had been eaten away by moss, but recent times had seen a cleaning of the statue, and in the twilight it glowed with a pale radiance.

Its face was passing strange, for writ large was an expression most unusual, and those who came to see it could not say if it was fear, or ecstasy, or some other that formed a juncture between the two. Indeed, those who lived nearby spoke of it in hushed tones, for they thought that the appearance did change with the passing of the years.

Now children played at the foot of the guardian, for the hill upon which is stood had become a park. Little boys imagined it a terrible monster, and came to hunt it with the full flowering of their imagination while their parents clustered about and talked of this and that.

Scholars came too, for they found the inscription on the statue most challenging. None had yet had the wit to discern what it meant, or even what language it came from, but still they tried, for curiosity ever ruled their minds.

One morning children came to hunt the guardian, and found that it was gone. They rushed to their parents who called the police, and then pondered how such a statue could disappear over night. With the police came the scholars, for a bronze plaque had been found.

Engraven in the surface was a single sentence, in clearest English. “In Purgatory were you punished, but now I take you into my arms, to be forever free.”


  1. Cecilia Dominic on 12.10.2010

    Oooh, this one will stick with me today. I love your writing style. Glad the Guardian will finally be free. 🙂


  2. Sam Adamson on 12.10.2010

    There’s a wonderful descriptive quality about this piece. I’m not entirely sure I “get” it all, but it’s a great read; I like the idea of unloved statues being rescued for greater purposes.

  3. Icy Sedgwick on 12.10.2010

    Beautifully written. I think the children “hunting” it is the clinching image.

  4. Davidr on 12.10.2010

    This I like. Have to get some backreading done, though

  5. The Four Part Land on 12.10.2010

    @Cecilia Thanks. Wrote the piece this morning to squeeze it in before the deadline.

    @Sam I don’t really get it either. I have no idea what the statue did, why it’s there, what the expression is. It all just *is*.

    @Icy It was something I remembered doing as a child, running around shooting at things with make-believe guns and playing in parks and forests. Thought it would fit here.

    @Davidr There isn’t really any background to this piece, it just exists. In some ways I think it’s better without a background.

  6. Steve Green on 12.11.2010

    A nicely woven story James, I thought it very atmospheric, and a tad sinister, it also leaves the reader’s imagination a some leeway run free with it too.

  7. Deanna Schrayer on 12.11.2010

    James, being one who loves to dream up the history of old, often long-forgotten items, this really struck me. The poor Guardian has had to endure all manner of people doing just that – poking and proding at him to try and figure him out, and he deserves that freedom.

    Very well written with supreme imagery!

  8. The Four Part Land on 12.11.2010

    @Steve I like having the leeway, because I don’t entirely understand what happened, and I think it should be up to the reader to decide for themselves. Never really though about it being sinister, but I can see why it would be.

    @Deanna I love jotting down little histories of items, especially long forgotten cities. I have a peculiar fascination with those, and include them in a lot of my writing.

    I think your two comments cover some of the breadth of interpretation, from a touch sinister to the poor guardian.

  9. John Wiswell on 12.11.2010

    Like Icy, I thought the choice to have the kids “hunt” the guardian was interesting. The child-game explanation works for me. Good the old thing finally got relieved of its watch.

  10. Jen Wylie on 12.11.2010

    Beautiful piece, I love the imagery. Now my mind will be dreaming about the statue tonight, the what and where and….
    Very well done, looking forward to reading more or your work.

  11. Adam Byatt on 12.12.2010

    I love it when imagery and ideas stick with you once you have finished reading a piece.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  12. Lara Dunning on 12.12.2010

    I could totally picture the scene in my head. The children playing and imagining the guardian as something more than it really was. The end was touching. I don’t know if its the holidays, or if it was intentional, but it had a chirstlike quality to it. I wasn’t expecting the ending to be uplifting. I imagined the guardian going on a rampage. Glad to be caught off guard.

  13. The Four Part Land on 12.12.2010

    @John I’m not actually sure why I chose the word Guardian as opposed to something else, but I think it adds a layer to the story. As to the children hunting, I had cowboys and indians or similar in mind, where the guardian was the big evil monster on the hill and if it spotted them they were dead.

    @Jen Hopefully it’s a good dream, and not too sinister. If you come up with more info on the creature, do let me know.

    @Adam Thanks. Really glad I wrote a piece where that can happen.

    @Lara A rampage? I didn’t think it sounded that cruel. Never really thought of having an evil ending to the piece. The godlike reference was intentional, that this was a creature that was doing penance for something.

  14. ganymeder on 12.12.2010

    This has such a dark, fairy tale quality to it. Love the way you used the language in this.

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