It was, once, thought divine; a giant boulder on the edge whose very precariousness embodied the holy communion between the living and the Creator. Eli’s grandfather had wandered there as a boy with bated breath and guarded steps, afraid the great boulder would fall, forever closing the connection between the two worlds.
And it had. Years ago, it’d tumbled down the cliff top, cracking open with one last holy sigh. There was something tragic, even vulgar, about the way the stony ruins were splayed open in the valley bed, gnawed at by moss. Its porous crannies provided a home for the bugs and plants that’d evolved post-blast. Echoes of creatures past. Eli’s grandpa saw one such mutant crawling over the face of the disgraced boulder: “That looks kinda like a ladybug, but ladybugs were smaller. Beautiful little boogers, your Grandma loved—.” But it had been over a day now and Eli’s hearing was dulled by hunger. So his gummy jaw shook on, wordless.
No one was interested in the ladybugs Grandpa spoke about or that Grandma loved—vain, impractical insects. They weren’t known to be nutritious or medicinal. Eli picked off the insect and let it crawl over her thumb.
“Can we eat them, Grandpa?” she asked, eyeing the frenzied explorer, traversing its new ridged landscape. It might as well have been the boulder for all its novelty. Newness was a constant. Eli’s face was pulled taut, never knowing the well-nourished softness Grandpa had known in his youth.
“No, you’d better not.”
Grandpa flinched. Eli wiped the guts on her thigh and started back towards the village, guided by the pit in her stomach. Grandpa paused, his hand on the once great rock and let out a sob.