The Pearl Diver

The world began and the little boy sat on the shore looking out across the ocean. The old man approached the boy, stopping near the fence between them, and motioned to him. When the boy approached, the old man spoke to him: “A stranger has come who will be staying for awhile. He dreams of diving for pearls here.” The little boy nodded and wondered what this meant.

The next day as the boy was day-dreaming, a stranger came from the forest path and walked thru the gate in the old man’s fence. He carried a small black case and didn’t seem to see the boy. The boy watched as he surveyed the rocky shoreline, stepping on the boulders, looking out across the waves. He settled on the largest one jutting far out into the sea, placed the black case at his feet, and removed his shoes. After securing the small case to his belt, he paused, then crouching, threw his arms back and sprang out from his perch, diving in a long graceful arc into the deep blue water. After an impossibly long submergence, he re-surfaced, climbed back onto his boulder, placed his case on the ground, then stretched out, resting in the sun.

This became the stranger’s routine. The little boy noticed that other than his black case, the pearl diver always emerged from the surf empty-handed. He wondered when the stranger’s precious pearls would be laid out in the sun to an admiring world. Day after day the stranger did this, as days became weeks, weeks became months, months became years, years became decades.

One day, the boy saw the old man and called him over. “What does he do beneath the surface, and what is in his small case?” The old man replied, “Well, my boy, there is something very special in his case. In it are sand grains from another world. He plants them in the oysters hoping to grow and present us beautiful, mysterious pearls.” “So where are his wondrous pearls?” the boy asked. “Son, the reason why is unknowable, but the oysters reject the sand grains from another world. That is why he emerges empty-handed.” Disappointed, the little boy now understood.

On the day the end of time arrived, the little boy and the old man stood together and watched as the stranger rose and walked past them empty-handed, other than his small black case. “Is he sad?” the little boy asked. “No. He has enjoyed his time diving in the ocean” the old man explained. The little boy admired the stranger for being brave and stoic. The old man watched as the stranger departed and wondered if that was a tear he saw in his eye. The stranger continued down the path, disappeared into the forest, and the world ended.

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