The Boy Who Cried …
“Wolf, wolf,” the boy cried late one day when he saw a scary shadow drift among nearby trees where his flock had gathered, hiding from the hot afternoon sun. With his heart beating fast, the boy cried out as loudly as he could. And just as they promised the millers quit milling and the farmers quit farming, gathered up their sticks and their stones and bounded across the field. The school yard emptied, as frightened eyes gathered at the windows.
And when the wolf, everyone had come to kill, turned out to be only a passing shadow, and the millers and farmers returned to milling and farming, eyes full of disappointment the boy could not help but feel some warmness in his heart. For a moment he had belonged, he was there, part of the picture of the town, and with the people who were so close and yet so far away. Standing there among the big, brave and strong men who were not afraid of wolves or anything, the boy felt something the empty fields and far off sunsets could not offer. A bittersweet memory stirred in the boy’s heart which even the turned backs of millers who returned to milling and farmers who returned to farming could not dash.
It was a lonely place, the wide open pasture which seemed to go on forever, even beyond the town which lay between the boy who tended the flocks, and the far off sunrises and sunsets which lingered in the horizon. It was a lonely place especially for a boy boy full of ideas, dreams, and all the things boys are filled with. Like those things that make them climb the tallest tress, skip rocks across a sleepy stream, or just sit and watch the clouds.
Day after day the boy made his way across the field where he would watch the flock from beneath the shade of a tree, or even from its branches if he took a notion. Day after day, for as long as he could remember, the boy had stared with sad eyes at the busy town. With the millers milling and the farmers farming, and the girls turning jump rope made of a forgotten clothesline in a busy school yard filled with giggling children, the boy saw no place for himself, there in the town, no matter how he wished otherwise.
And now after all these times of listening to, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” passed down across generations to keep certain little boys and little girls in their places, I cannot help but wonder if anyone has ever heard the story. I especially wonder about all the little boys and girls, who like the little boy in the story,and like myself, and perhaps like every other child who feels sadness when their cries for help go unheard, or perhaps only not listened to.
So the story of the boy who cried wolf must end, as all stories must. Alone in the empty pasture, crying out for help, victim of much more than a passing shadow which only he could see the boy was gobbled up. There in his lonely sadness, the boy lived out his life. After a while no one heard his cries, not even himself, and finally he was forgotten.
Some choose to believe there was a wolf and it was a wolf that gobbled up the boy, but others know the sad truth, like the boy, who disappeared, that there are worse things than being gobbled up by wolves.
Edward Reed 1997