On the side of a snow covered mountain that villagers who lived nearby called Denali, there was a cave. The cave was in a place where no practical person would come across it unintentionally. It was deep and it branched off into other deep caves. Whatever light was in the cave or whatever activity occurred within, it was obscured by its depth.
And so it was possible that the creature, Timothy, could have lived in the cave peacefully and undisturbed his entire life. The creature was five feet tall, and his entire body appeared composed of stone. He walked on two legs like a human. His eye sockets were hollow, except for blue flames that burned where one would expect his eyes to be. He lived alone and followed the same routine every day: eating nutrients he found in the rocks, thinking deeply, and resting. He had parents once, but they died along with all the other creatures like himself. He was the last of his kind.
All of Timothy’s basic needs were met within the cave; however, he was lonely. He wanted a friend. He wanted someone to show how big he’d gotten, tell about a clever thing he’d done, and he wanted someone to interact with.
Timothy knew that there was a village located about 2,000 feet below the entrance to his cave. The villagers could not see him, but he could move to a spot on the mountain where he could see them. They appeared to him to get along well with each other, so he thought they might be friendly toward a stranger like himself. He decided to climb down to the village and see if he could make a friend.
Timothy did not mind the darkness of the cave, but he frequently looked outside. He liked to watch the sun rise and set, the stars twinkle in the sky at night, and the different ways the moon looked on different nights as it traveled across the sky. He was also familiar with the snow that covered the outside of the mountain, but he did not have much experience walking through it as he hardly had any need to travel far from the cave. As he hiked down, he found the snow was slippery. He fell several times. It was a long climb down.
When Timothy arrived at the edge of the village, he saw a woman gathering wood from a pile outside of her house. He walked over to her and stopped beside her where she might see him. When she looked up from her wood pile to see who stood beside her, she froze and stared at him. When she realized that she was looking at a living thing she had never seen before, she dropped the bundle of wood she had held in her hands and ran into her house screaming. Not knowing how to respond to the fleeing screaming woman, he hiked quickly back to his cave.
Timothy thought for a long time about the woman’s reaction. He asked himself why she had become afraid after just seeing him. He had stood very still. He concluded that she had never seen a creature that looked as he did. He had not realized ahead of the encounter that he looked very different from the villagers.
A few days later, Timothy decided he would try to find a friend in the village again. He had seen villagers completely covered in clothing during the winter months, and he could do the same to look more like them. He covered himself in clothing his kind had collected in the cave in the past. He made sure he covered everything. He even found some dark goggles with which to cover his eyes.
As Timothy hiked down to the village, he worried that people would be able to see that he was different anyway. He was afraid they would scream and run away like the woman had. He did not consider that they might attack him because he had never seen his kind exhibit violence. Although he was afraid, he continued to hike down the mountain hoping to make a friend.
When Timothy arrived at the outskirts of the village, he came across a man returning from a hunt. Timothy stood still on the path as the man walked by. The man looked at him and waved. Timothy copied the gesture and, in that way, had his first positive interaction with a human. He felt encouraged.
Timothy cautiously walked into and through the village. In an open area, he came across a group of children. They were playing with a ball. They were throwing it and kicking it to each other. At one point; a boy failed to catch a pass, the ball flew past him, and landed by Timothy. He picked it up and threw it to one of the boys closest to him. The boy caught it. He thought they were finished when the boy chose another child to toss the ball to, but then one of the other boys threw the ball back to Timothy.
The kids thought Timothy was just another child and they included him in their game of catch. When they got tired of passing the ball to each other, they played other games. He was clever enough to learn the rules of each game right away. The time passed quickly and he could not remember if he’d ever had so much fun. He happily did whatever the children did. If they played with the ball, he played with the ball. If they chased each other, he ran around with them.
Then, the children started stealing each other’s hats. Timothy became nervous when he first observed that. Instead of running and dodging the attempts to steal his hat, he froze. One of the children easily pulled his hat off his head and saw his stone skull. The child stopped and stared. Slowly, the other children noticed that his head was very different from their own.
Almost all of the kids ran away shortly after that. However, one child did not run. The child was more interested in the creature’s appearance than she was scared of what might happen if someone was really different from you.
“Why are you completely covered up?” she asked. Timothy did not reply. “Are you trying to fit in?” Again, he said nothing. “You might fit in for a while if you hide under all that clothing; but if you want real friends, you need to show them who you are right away. Some kids might not be your friend; but the ones that are nice to you will probably be good friends.” They stood quietly for a few moments looking at each other. Then, he began hiking back to his cave. “My name is Stephanie, by the way!”
Timothy thought about the advice Stephanie had given him. The advice did not make sense to him. He thought if people saw him, they would always run. However, he also considered that he did not have much of a choice but to take her advice because everyone would know that he might visit the village wearing a disguise. They would be on the lookout for him.
A few days later, Timothy worked up the courage to visit the village. He did not wear clothing as he hiked down the mountain. He did not hide any part of himself.
When Timothy arrived at the village, he saw the same group of kids playing in the village square. Stephanie was among them, and he went directly to her. The other children ran away, but she did not. She was frightened after seeing all of him. She had not seen his flaming blue eyes before. Because she was the one who told him to come as himself, she felt she could not run. Instead, she invited him to play catch.
The children who had run away watched Stephanie play with Timothy. When they saw that he only wanted to play, they came back. They were very interested in being around this creature who was so different from themselves.
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