This is a story I submitted to a magazine and it actually got published! Of course it was a magazine that no one gets paid for stories in but still... someone liked it enough to publish it. We were given a picture and asked to write a story about it. My imagination goes nuts when I'm challenged like that so here's what I came up with.
ANIRNIQ – THE SPIRIT WITHIN
In August the news of Qiqirn’s death (pronounced Kewkern) reached Robert. It had been twenty years since his bush pilot days when the scheduled route included the settlement at Igloolik. Each time they stopped, he’d visit Qiqirn and watch soapstone being sculpted into pieces of art. First it was given shape using a piece of shale. Loving hands smoothed the stone with water, and finally the point of his knife was used to add the finer details. Robert had once brought him a stylus, but Qiqirn continued to work with his knife. He liked the old ways. He shared many Inuit legends as he worked.
On Labour Day a truck pulled up to Robert’s Ottawa home and a large block of stone was placed on the lawn. A note from Qiqirn’s wife was handed to him.
“It was Qirqirn’s wish that you have this stone. He sensed it holds something you will understand.”
Robert ran his hands across the sides of the cool stone. He felt nothing, but trusted that the mystique Qirqirn spoke of would eventually be revealed.
On Tuesday morning a red-faced Robert stormed into the house. “Someone knocked the corners off my stone during the night!”
He took a piece of his roughest sandpaper and smoothed the edges of the broken corners, then rubbed them with water as he had seen Qirqirn do.
Each morning when Robert went out he’d find more damage to the stone. He sat up one night in his darkened living room waiting for the culprit to show but saw no one.
One morning he found a smoothly carved featureless head sitting atop the stone.
He felt relief that the stone was not being maliciously damaged, but was still angry that someone dared to take a chisel to it. How would he ever discover the meaning of Qiqirn’s message?
Each day more was being revealed. He started to look forward to the mornings, anxious to see what had transpired during the night.
After a week the right arm and most of the torso appeared. A smooth rock was held securely in the right hand. But the head of the statue was looking down to the left. What was hiding in the stone?
Saturday Robert slept late. He awoke with a start and ran outside to see what change he would find. In the bright sunshine he saw that the left hand had appeared. In the hand was a carver’s tool fashioned from shale.
Features had been added to the face. He gasped as he recognized the image of his old friend. Qiqirn had told him of the Inuit belief that everything on earth holds a spirit (anirniq in Inuktitut).
Robert now understood that in a weakened state Qiqirn had felt a part of his own spirit in the stone. He knew no artist would come to free him. If he didn’t sculpt himself his spirit would be locked in stone forever.
Now Qiqirn’s spirit was freed and he could rest.
NOTE: I know that the Inuit believe that all living things have a spirit, I can't say that they believe stone does but I used writer's license for interests sake.
Copyright Shirleymac April 2007