Quandary Wall

One night, many years ago, an archaeological team partied late, celebrating their recent discovery. When the drink flowed and few remained standing, Kurt and Mary snuck away. On Mary’s mind was a reference in an ancient text, to a mural of some spiritual significance. On Kurt’s mind was Mary.

He followed her through the tunnels, lighting where she pointed, digging where she instructed, brushing away layers of dust with utmost care. When the mural emerged, the quandary wall, embossed with advice-giving symbols revealed after lonely centuries, she giggled with excitement, and kissed him.

Later, they married.

Now, they have returned, because Mary faces a dilemma beyond her experience. Her path is unclear, the options unfathomable to even the wise: Family? Truth? Justice? Salvation? Discretion? Right and Wrong never felt so far from her grasp. So Kurt suggested she do as her ancient heroes did when faced with such impossibles: consult the mural, the quandary wall.

They fly, they land, they trek. He follows her through the tunnels, they find once again.

As she deliberates, memories flood back to him. Tears and a tightening of the throat. Then he brings himself back to the present and looks upon his wife again. Her hair may have turned grey, the brilliant mind fraying slightly and forgetting, but the spirit remains. She touches the embossed symbols, reads the stories, finds solace and comparison. As she reaches a decision, she giggles with excitement, and kisses him.

Later, their children buried them side-by-side.


5 thoughts on “Quandary Wall

  1. Holistic Wayfarer

    Thank you for the follow. I appreciate the support. =) This story is obviously well told. If I may raise a question, the tense seems to vacillate between past and present (married….then “is” in the next paragraph…again, the shift between the last paragraph and the final sentence. I wonder if later they burY will work. Just posing, not insisting by any means. The giggle throws me off just a tad because it is in such sharp contrast to the bury that comes right up. I wonder if giggle is must be how she expresses her excitement. You would think I’m good at turning subscribers off. But I mean only to be helpful. I wouldn’t spend the time, otherwise. Diana

    1. Mercilo Daviss Post author

      Hi Diana,
      Thanks for the comment, it’s a good question. I put a lot of thought into the tense shifts in this piece, and the last line in particular. My idea was that everything takes place in Kurt’s head as he watches Mary at the wall. The first paragraphs are past tense to evoke his memories and nostalgia of how he met Mary. Paragraphs 4, 5 and 6 explain the present dilemma that has brought them back to the wall from his point of view. They take place around the same chunk of time.
      To then place paragraph 7, which describes an event much later, in the same tense as 4, 5 and 6 seems to stretch the chunk of time to breaking point. Also, it’s not so much a description of what happened, as it is a description of how Kurt wants to imagine things happening. In Kurt’s head, he sees his children burying him next to Mary, as this thought encapsulates the entire relationship as Kurt sees it. So paragraph 7 is like Kurt imagining a memory of the future, just as paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 are him imagining the past.
      I hope that makes sense – the explanation is almost as long as the story!


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