Three Parables / Short Tales | Cassandra Voices

Three Parables / Short Tales



Once upon a time, there lived a girl who was so used to being accompanied by her date of birth, that she couldn’t imagine herself separated from it. For seven years following her first birthday, the girl and her date of birth were always seen holding hands, and people who knew the girl well were surprised when on her eighth birthday, they saw the girl walking alone, although strictly speaking, she was not alone, as her date of birth ran just a little behind her. Everyone got so used to seeing the girl’s date of birth running just a little behind her, that when the girl turned 15, they were surprised yet again to see her date of birth lagging behind, not just two steps away as it did during the last seven years but almost fifteen steps away from the girl. The number of steps between the girl and her date of birth grew with each birthday, and when the girl turned twenty-five, her date of birth was lagging twenty-two or twenty-five steps away, no one knew for sure how many, as there was no way to measure the number of steps. When the girl, by now no longer a girl but a woman of course, was celebrating her thirty-fifth birthday, her date of birth was so far behind her that it was no more than a small dark silhouette on the horizon, running, running, trying to catch up with the girl, that is, the woman, and of course, its efforts were in vain, as there was no way for the date of birth to catch up. Ten years later, when the woman was celebrating her thirty-ninth birthday in the new millennium, her date of birth tumbled back into the 20th century where it belonged and, no matter how hard the woman tried to pull it back into the 21st century so the two of them would stay together, she could not see her date of birth in the darkness of the past millennium. From then on, the separation grew harder for both of them, the woman and the woman’s date of birth. When the woman turned fifty, she walked to the Edge of the World, which was nothing but a precipice that divided the third millennium from the past, and she called out to her date of birth, hoping to hear its voice, even if she could no longer see it, but her date of birth did not respond. The woman spent the next ten years weaving an unusually strong rope, and when the rope was finally long enough as well as strong enough, the woman once again came to the so-called Edge of the World. She dropped her rope into the darkness and waited. Finally, someone tugged on the rope at the other end, ever so slightly, and although the tug was ever so weak, the woman knew it was her date of birth tugging, for who else would care to catch the other end of her rope? The woman spent the next twenty years standing at the Edge of the World, trying to pull her date of birth out of the abyss of the past century, but as every passing year her date of birth fell deeper and deeper into the past, the woman’s task looked quite hopeless, even to the woman herself, who just couldn’t quit and she stood there year after year and pulled and pulled, until her hands were so sore that she couldn’t hold the rope anymore, and when she gave up and died at the age of eighty-three, she was finally reunited with her date of birth.


A long time ago, when the Spanish first encountered the Apache, whom they called Querechos, the Apache managed to capture five Spaniards, and they did to four of them what they always did to their enemies, and when they were about to do the same to the fifth man, their medicine man warned the Apache chief that the man they were about to execute was what the Spaniards called “poet”, which was similar to what a “medicine man” was to the Apache. It was decided that the life of the “poet” would be spared if he composed a “poem” every day, so the Apache medicine man could use it as a spell in his healing ceremony, and of course the Spaniard complied, under fear of death, and produced a poem per day, for many days, and after six months of this, the chief of the Apache pardoned him and changed the sentence from death by lancing and scalping to suicide. Thus, as soon as the poet ran out of poems, he would have to kill himself. Under this sentence, the poet went on and on writing poems every day, until he outlived all the Apache who had been present at his sentencing, and even though no one any longer remembered the sentence of suicide, he continued composing a short poem daily, because he knew that he would kill himself if he stopped composing poems. Come to think of it, this isn’t very different from the way some of us write poems today, is it?


One poet was very concerned about his future immortality, therefore he did everything possible to ensure that his works would remain for centuries. We will not waste time recounting unnecessary details of the steps he took to achieve his goal. We can only say that when that which will happen to all of us, happened to him, his soul instantly forgot about its existence in his body and began to fly around the world. In its seemingly aimless flying around the world, his soul sometimes flew over the city in which the poet had lived, but it recognized none of the streets or houses, including the poet’s own house. The poet’s soul flew into a book fair where his books were being sold and advertised, but after circling first over his books beautifully laid out on counters, then over the magnificently illuminated advertisements of his books, it flew out the window, as if the image of its former self on book covers had nothing to do with it. Just as accidentally, it flew into the house where the poet’s wife and children were still living, and without recognizing them, flew out the open door. The soul, freed from the body, was deeply indifferent to the man’s dreams of the immortality of his name, which it had long forgotten.

Feature Image Daniele Idini


About Author

>> Nina Kossman is a poet, memoirist, playwright, editor, translator and artist. As a Jewish refugee from former Soviet Union, Kossman’s own work has been translated into multiple languages and received the UNESCO/PEN Short Story Award, an NEA fellowship, as well as grants from Foundation for Hellenic Culture, Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, and Fundación Valparaíso. Nina lives in New York.

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