The Mapmaker Parable

by JD DeHart


In ages prior, on another spinning orb, the mapmaker’s thin fingers formed the document. His knowledge of its lines and theology were a matter of art and instinct. When the map was finished, he waited silently.

Centuries later, a brutish creature knocked on the mapmaker’s door with sounds of heavy iron. Come in, the waiting one offered. The brutish creature was all muscle and sinew and attempted to take the document by force. It was a brief and pointless conflict.

The map did not choose to move, regardless of the pressure applied to it, and the brute went away disappointed.

Some space of time later, a clever creature stopped by the mapmaker’s dwelling. With fiendish words, the clever creature attempted to seduce the diagram. His words were the velvet surface of an inviting cushion.

Of course, the markings were old and full of wisdom. This was the kind of wisdom, in fact, that could see through the veil of any conceit, cutting to the bone of manipulation.

The map stayed still again.

In what seemed like the final days, a mechanical creature thrummed into the dwelling. With even, programmed tones and electric hums, the mechanical creature tried to use logic on the manuscript. In frustration, the machine tried to make a copy, but the lines simply would not cooperate. They waved and danced so that, in the process, nothing useful could be replicated.

Sparking, the third creature slipped away.

The mapmaker grew older and older and began to believe that no one would be worthy of his work. Then, with distant sounds of ravage and battle, a meek and porcelain creature sought sanctuary in the cartographer’s domicile. The invasion of greedy tribes decimating her world left the smell of her people’s ash on her, staining the pale surface of her skin. Yet, there was a force in her that drew the injured traveler to the mapmaker’s home.

The map saw the frailty of the meek creature, her nimble limbs and the spark in her wounded eyes. Furthermore, the map detected greatness in her battered would-be princess bones. There was a survivor’s instinct in her that caused the map to glow.

The meek creature beheld the words in firelight and she seized their tradition, forever more holding them dear to her heart.

With no other provocation, the document rose, floating, and folded into a crown. The final creature rode away on a sweep of promise, now filled with strength, her mind seeing images of a king, somewhere and in some time, smiling on her with benevolence. The porcelain became hardened stone, with the now-glowing heart beating inside, and the crown filled the new ruler with determination and a sense of balance.

The mapmaker spent his final weeks full of contentment, while somewhere, planets and centuries away, a new cartographer found instinct welling up in his thin fingers, the same image of the kind king guiding appendages in swirling construction. Ink began to spread on a fresh canvas, and the new map would wait for the right touch.


Copyright © 2014 by JD DeHart

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