The Stelladders have a nice living room and dining room facing the street. On the second floor, there is a master bedroom and a small study that can be a guest room if there is a guest, but they do not sit in any of their rooms looking out the windows at the boulder or at anything at all because to them the outside is a nice background and nothing else. This is how it is for them. The boulder weighs 570 tons and never bothered anybody until it moved.
The Lenape Indians who used to live in the region had a name for the boulder: Pamachapuka, stone from the sky. This was the only way they could explain its presence.
The Stelladders were grateful for it because it served as a good landmark for people trying to find the house. Just opposite the Pamachapuka. Then they had to explain, and it made them feel very local. It is a good thing for the children to play upon if they are careful but their children are growing up and do not bother with it anymore. It is also a good backdrop for family photographs which there are plenty of now in the photo albums. It is huge and amazing and haughty, and it moved.
The Lenape Indians who used to live here had no idea no concept of glaciers and how they once travelled all over the globe. That is why the Pamachapuka is here. It rolled over a glacier a long long long time ago.
I am certain it moved, the wife said.
Impossible, the husband said.
Look at it when you leave for the office.
I’ll look but I’m telling you it didn’t move nor did anybody move it nor could they.
I’m telling you it moved.
Then the husband pulled the car out of the garage and backed down the driveway and swung into the street. He looked at the gigantic boulder for quite some time because Mr. Vatocik drove up behind him in his pickup and waited for a little before he honked his horn. The husband returned to his driveway and Mr. Vatocik sped away.
It moved, the husband said when he went inside.
Told you, the wife said.
This upset them. They sat in their living room and thought about how to explain their discovery for a long great while.
How does something get to be where it is? Sometimes you will encounter something so alone in its otherness that you can only assign mystery to it. No matter where you are in time. These very big natural things things you encounter are beyond human strength even though we can pretty much do whatever we want in this era of oomph and conceit.
What I’m striving to say is: T.L. and I have been married for nearly five years next week and I’m fairly certain she’s made a discovery but is keeping it from me or keeping it to herself which is the same thing but not entirely. The question is why she would do something like that? I’ll return to this.
The Stelladders thought long and hard into the afternoon. The wife became concerned that the husband hadn’t gone to the office or called in and they hadn’t been answering the telephone.
If the Pamachapuka didn’t move that means we did, the wife said.
Impossible, the husband said. Stop calling it that.
What should I call it?
What it is – a big heavy rock.
When something that size moves there’s usually a sound or it leaves a trail around its base, like the earth being shuffled. There’s no trail and we heard nothing.
I suppose the same goes for our house.
So there’s no evidence of us moving and no evidence of the boulder moving.
But it moved.
You should call the office.
The Stelladders were unhappy because they did not have an any answers. Their children came home from school.
Who moved the rock? they asked. The wife readied dinner.
The Lenape Indians consider a Pamachapuka a gift from above. It is a big rock where there are no other rocks and so it is very very special and anything that special must have a meaning and purpose. Early settlers in the region used the Pamachapuka as a mile marker and a signpost. Natives and intruders judged their existence in relationship to the Pamachapuka. A more modern scientific term for Pamachapuka is erratic. Erratics can be found everywhere.
T.L. and I perhaps need to spend some time apart. We work together and sometimes it is a wonderful and convenient thing to have married a fellow scientist and that way there is always something to talk about at dinner. We do things the old fashioned way and in that way we are now considered somewhat retro by colleagues but we are careful and the only way to be careful is to do things the old-fashioned way and then put everything into a computer.
T.L. and I work with the sun.
We have an observatory at the top of the house and in the morning we fix the telescope and open the end not pointing to the heavens and we get our pencils and pens and start drawing the images of the sun on large paper. We are Carringtons in this respect and I don’t want to get too technical but in essence we are on the lookout for another solar superstorm like the one Richard Carrington tracked in 1859. This has little to do with the deep down of T.L. and I at this point.
Drawings are clearer than photographs and always have been. People pay us for all of this. T.L. defers to me on shading and I defer to her on diametry. We are complementary is what I’m striving to illustrate and work together independently at the same time and because of this it is impossible for her to make a discovery without me making the discovery as well.
But she has.
The Stelladders’ eating is at first secondary to their contemplation of either the Pamachapuka or themselves in motion without leaving a trail. It is a fact that the quietly inexplicable can put one off one’s food although the children suffered no ill effects and in fact asked for seconds which they received and then thirds. The Stelladders think it would have been preferable if the wife had only imagined it. The husband wishes his wife would not have drawn his attention to the phenomenon.
Let’s not say anything about this to anyone, the husband said.
If we noticed it and the children noticed it then other people will notice it, the wife said.
Well so what if they do it’s not our fault.
Maybe that’s what it is a hidden fault somewhere rolled it a little or us a little.
So now you’re a scientist.
Don’t snap at me.
Well then let the whole world notice it noticing things doesn’t explain them.
Maybe we should call off the bridge party tomorrow night.
T.L. and I listen to our favorite classics while we work and she’s partial to amateur composers like Borodin who was a chemist and Carpenter who was a businessman while I am partial to the composers who couldn’t do anything except compose like Bach and Beethoven and Mozart and a whole bunch of other big names. I mention this because T.L. is now taking a shine to my music as this morning she asked for a partita and I obliged. She has discovered something I haven’t and she is not telling me. I construct a list of reasons why T.L. would do this:
T.L. does not want to become famous all by herself because she loves me.
T.L. could tell everyone that we both discovered what she discovered because she loves me.
T.L. is waiting to see if I will discover what she has discovered because she loves me.
T.L. has made a major minor discovery or a minor major discovery which means that either way no one’s life is threatened by or dependent on it and so she can afford to keep it to herself until bringing it to my attention. This has nothing to do with her loving me.
It has everything to do with patience.
It has everything to do with having one up on me so that if at some future point I behave in a way that she does not like she can remind me of my imperfection as a human being and a scientist by revealing her discovery.
This doesn’t sit well with me.
If I made a discovery that T.L. didn’t make I would tell her immediately because I love her.
Or do I?
Why do I tell her anything?
When the Lenape Indians put their hands on the Pamachapuka they felt a heavy vibration coming up from the Earth and into the stone and that is why they left it alone.
The Stelladders did not cancel the bridge party and the Alts enjoyed the cocktails and the cheese and pimento loaf shaped like a four of spades and the bowl of little snacky things. The Alts did not notice that the pamachapuka had moved or that the Stelladders had moved. The husbands in fact got a little high on the martinis and one wife had to drive her husband home and the other had to shoulder hers up to bed.
They spoke over breakfast.
I’m still trying to figure out how you knew it had moved, the husband said.
Something felt off, the wife said.
With the rock.
And that made you look outside.
I just happened to glance over when I brought in the milk and the paper.
I’m still trying to figure out how the kids knew it had moved.
If you’re trying to say it’s only my imagination and the only reason you see it as well is because my power of suggestion is strong…
Not so loud I’ve got a head on.
The Alts didn’t notice it.
Thank God for that.
So the noticing is limited to us to our family the four of us.
Or so it seems thus far.
What does that say about us.
I don’t know what you’re implying now let’s forget it and how’s about some more coffee.
T.L. doesn’t need to encourage me to talk about anything that is on my mind because that is something that goes unspoken. I could come right out and ask her, but I know how the conversation would go.
Have you discovered something without telling me?
Have you discovered something without telling me?
T.L. is very matter-of-factual in that if a question asked requires a simple affirmative or negative she will supply the simple answer and go no further. Her comeback is always: You asked me a yes or no question and I provided the appropriate answer. This is what gets me. How am I to know that she did indeed provide the appropriate answer? T.L. is very good at debating the meaning of appropriate and by very good I mean she doesn’t tire as quickly as me. I won’t ask her right out because she will think I’ve become a suspicious and we need to work together beautifully as we always have the many years married and not that we have loved each other.
When the Lenape Indians figured out that they weren’t wanted in the region anymore they left. To take the Pamachapuka with them would have been impossible. Their horses were strong but all of them together could not have moved the erratic stone, which had fallen from the sky for a reason and its reason was not to be altered by anyone.
College kids did it, the wife said.
There’s not a college around here for miles, the husband said.
This is not my fault.
Well don’t make it mine.
T.L. is humming along with the Bach now and she is very happy.
Each day you will look at things differently than you did the day before and not because you planned to. I am referring to the erratic outside our house. I am looking at it and thinking why in this era of strength and certainty has nobody moved it to take advantage of the land. Perhaps it is the cost of moving such a monolith even though I have no idea what the cost of such a prospect would be. I don’t want to move it. It lends a certain timelessness to the neighborhood even though the neighborhood is just our house and the street and the forest preserve behind the erratic. It reminds me that it was here millions of years before T.L. and I and will likely be here millions of years after T.L. and I are gone, although even that is not so certain in this era of convenience and ability.
You’ve been all morning staring at that rock, T.L. says.
I wonder who discovered it, I say.
Impossible to know.
Because it’s so old.
Because it has nothing to do with us.
So you’re saying things like that are never discovered they just always are.
It moved once a long long long time ago and it won’t likely ever move again.
A glacier moved it.
Well then a glacier will move it again someday now are you going to do any work this morning or is it all up to me?
The Stelladders are last seen in front of their house. The husband pounds a wooden FOR SALE sign into the lawn and the wife pulls up her grandmother’s rosebushes and the children are off playing somewhere.
T.L. is very good at what she does and no matter what she does I can’t explain her I can’t explain why I’m still here doing the same things alongside her and converting her to my composers and I will likely never figure out what she is keeping from me, or if she is indeed keeping anything from me.
The glacier melts. The boulder rests. Some winged creature too new to be named sees the boulder and it alights on it and while this massive rock will not make an excellent home it does make a nice place to rest for now.