Just An Egg, Said Knut Aurelis

Writing Prompt: While out for your morning jog you stumble in the dim light and trip over something heavy and hard. Upon closer inspection you find a smooth, metallic egg shaped object about the size of a football.. You pick it up to examine it closer and after looking it over intently it begins to vibrate.

Knut Aurelis, an unfortunate name to begin with, was a man who simply didn’t care for change. He wasn’t an unhappy man, far from it. He was content. Knut had a husband he loved with all his heart, and a family he’d chosen. Two daughters; Ava and Audacity Aurelis. That alone made up for the loss of his parents; they were very much alive, but very much a product of their time.

Knut Aurelis. Here was a man whose world would fall apart, and all because of an egg, though to call it an egg is vastly oversimplifying what it really was.

**

December fifth, just eight days before Ava’s ninth birthday:

Knut was out jogging, his usual route through the parkway on West Avenue. There were parks far closer to his home, more convenient to his route, but something called him to West Avenue each and every morning.

It was a peaceful place, caught between the fog of factories forever steaming and the rush of traffic heading nowhere in particular. Yet still you could here the birds singing from high branches, jumping gaily from the treetops, diving down in free fall then swooping suddenly back up.

And there were flowers. It was a strange thing to come for, but then most parks preferred the likes of bushes not caring to plant bright daffodils or orchards out of fear they’d be torn up. Whether they were torn from the ground by human hands or the snapping jaws of a mutt, it really mattered none at all.

But it was different here. The flowers were left well enough alone to thrive and to add a splash of vibrant colour to the backdrop of tall-tower grey and smoky white. It was beautiful, and that was enough.

Knut kept to the cobbled path of the park, nodding politely to those faces that he recognised.

There was Amanda, single mother of three, a respected paediatrician who’d lost her husband in an accident abroad. Then there was Hounslowe, an elderly widow who spent the sunny days in his dearly departed wife’s favourite park, feeding the ducks just as she once had.

Then came Guss, the park’s groundsman, a man in dirtied dungarees leaning on a shovel. He was about as lovely a man as you might ever meet, but he was terribly sad. Knut had heard that Guss was due to be married, engaged not half a year ago. She ran away, or so they say. Guss refused to talk about it.

Guss waved a hand at Knut, and Knut returned the same in like. But then Knut realised Guss was speaking, mouthing words he couldn’t hear above the music of his headphones.

Knut slowed his pace, coming to a stop beside the groundsman, sweat dripping from his forehead. He wiped his face and took out a single earbud.

“What’s up Guss? How’s it hanging?” Knut smiled, offering his hand.

Guss shook his head, “No time.” he was man of few words as it was, “Come with me.”

“Where?” Knut had no reason to be fearful of Guss, they were good friends. Guss was in the fact the first person Knut had met in this park on West Avenue, but still he couldn’t shake this sudden twisting in his stomach, like butterflies but poisoned.

“No time.” Guss repeated, swinging his shovel over his shoulder as he started to walk away.

“I guess I’m meant to follow?” Knut called, and when no answer came he thought about walking away. Yes, he should have walked away. Instead he followed.

**

“What is it?” Knut was knelt beside Guss, both men staring down into a freshly dug pit, earth piled up high behind it.

“Fate.” Guss was chewing his teeth, hands tucked into the pockets of his dungarees, “Didn’t think it would come again so soon.” Guss cast an eye at Knut, “Didn’t think it’d come for you.”

“Quit playing.” Knut laughed, hoping Guss might laugh with him. It had to be some sort of practical joke. Where had this come from? Why for him? And what had happened when it came before? So many questions, all with answers looming in a future far too close for comfort.

“Ain’t a poor bugger in ‘ere that’s not suffered.” Guss nodded solemnly to himself, “Nice place, the park. Bit too nice if you’re asking me.”

“That’s just ’cause you’re a bloody good groundsman.” Knut smiled, Guss didn’t return the favour, “Come on Guss, what exactly’s going on here? You’re starting to put me off.”

“Put you off?” now Guss chose to laugh, but it wasn’t meant to be funny, “You should be scared, Knut. Not put off… You should be damn well terrified o’ that there egg.”

There it was, the unspoken truth of what they were staring at, hidden in the pit. But to call it just an egg was like calling Michelangelo’s masterpiece, strewn upon the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, just a painting. Technically it is just a painting, but by God is it so much more.

The egg in the pit was about the size of a football, perfectly smooth and made of metal. It was humming, ever so faintly, and Guss was gesturing for Knut to pick it up.

“Why, Guss? Why should I pick it up?” Knut couldn’t deny he was drawn to the egg, he found himself instinctively reaching for it, having to hold himself back through force of will, “You tell me to be terrified…”

“And so you should.” Guss puckered his lips and spat at the grass beside the pit, “This ‘ere is something foul, call it an egg and I’d call it rotten through and through.” he sighed, pushing himself up with his hands on his knees, “But better you pick it up now, better sooner than later.”

Knut had so many more questions for the groundsman, he needed to know what Guss was hiding. But it would be useless to ask. Guss wasn’t one for sharing, and this had perhaps been Knut’s longest conversation with him to date. A conversation that had just ended, apparently, as Guss started to walk away.

Left alone Knut pondered the metal egg in the ground, there was absolutely nothing fanciful about it, and yet what he saw was beauty, something that belonged in this park, that belonged with him.

With trembling hands Knut reached out for the egg, the humming growing louder as the shell began to crack…

Copyright © K R Perry 2019

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