Allegory by Kelly Mullaly
"Who are you?"
"I’m me," she answered cheerfully, "I’ve come to add my rock to the pile."
They looked sharply down their noses at her, sneering and sucking their teeth in disapproval. We were lined up behind her, brought there to offer our own rocks to the pile. We stole glances at each other’s rocks hoping that ours was good enough. We all were anxious to please the judges.
"Oh no! That simply will not do," one of the judges screamed. "It’s completely the wrong color!" The judge pointed to the pile, all of the rocks there were the same color. Just then the judge grabbed the rock from her hand. He covered it in paint to match the rocks in the pile. The group in line gasped and hugged their rocks close to themselves.
Another judge snatched her newly colored rock and exclaimed, “Well it’s completely misshapen. It will never fit into the pile with this big end.” “True, true,” all the judges agreed. One of the judges took a chisel to her rock and banged off the big end. Some of us in line looked away, horrified by what we had just witnessed. Others stood with open mouths. We all began to shiver with fear. What if our rocks were misshapen or the wrong color?
The judges took her rock to the pile and placed it in the assigned place. It wobbled a bit and swayed. It looked out of place somehow, uncomfortable in the pile. It wasn’t quite the right shape yet. It stood out too much from the rest of the pile. “Wait,” another judge said gruffly, “it still needs more work.” With that he took a tool that made sparks fly from her rock. Awful noises echoed over the line. Mixed in was our frightened sobbing. We looked down at the ground afraid to think what was in store for our rocks.
"Oh no," she screamed, "no!" The judges picked up a pile of pebbles and dust. "Oh no," one of them declared, laughing, "this will never do. Next?"
We all stood in sorrowful silence. “Who is next?” The judge bellowed at the next girl in line, “You, get up here, bring your rock.”
A voice from the back of the line said, “No.” It wasn’t as loud as the judges had been but it was loud enough to reach where they were standing. The line of us turned quickly to see who had said such a thing to the judges. “No,” she said a bit louder this time as she raised her rock above her head. Someone else raised their rock and added her, “No,” just as loudly. One by one we lifted up our rocks and our voices. “No!” The judges gathered together and came towards us. “Do you think behavior like this will get your rock into our pile?”
We went to where her rock lay in pieces. It was carefully scooped up and carried away. We guided her away from the judges, forming a protective circle around her. Her rock was laid on the ground far from the scene of its undoing. One by one we placed our rocks in a pile on top of hers. Each one was different but we worked them together until they comfortably rested in place. Our pile wasn’t as ordered as the other but we were content. We marveled at each other’s rocks. We no longer worried if one was better than the other but took joy in the uniqueness of each one.
Another line was brought to the judges. We called to them, inviting them to our pile. Some looked meekly over while the judges warned them to ignore us. A few dropped out of the line and made their way to us. “May we add our rocks to your pile?”
"Certainly," we said, "find a space you like and join your rocks with ours. Welcome!"
Others found their way to us, some were too frightened of the judges to leave the line. Soon, though, our pile was tall and strong. We noticed that our rocks didn’t have to be uniform to support each other in the pile. With each new line more came our way and added their rocks to the pile built on the foundation of her rock.