The man walks up to the open book, pressing his nose to the leaves. He smells it, scratches it, and even tastes it. It’s not a book of paper and leather, but it has quite the story to tell. The man adjusts his glasses, straightens his beard, flicks his suspenders and goes in for another lick.
Just like a paper book, this book has many pages. They’re stacked on top of one another and they flip and fold like a struggling serpent frozen in time. Sort of like an ancient folded newspaper. But, the pages are not made of cellulose; they’re made of silica, and inscribed upon them is a tumultuous tale that tells of times long before Huck Finn, Hugo’s Hunchback, Herodotus’ histories and even Homer’s Iliad. Moreover, it’s a primary source. No interpreting the transliteration of Egyptian, to Greek, to Latin. In this book the language is universal: you get what you see.
The man stands in his hiking boots and oversized hat, admiring the sun-kissed knowledge-repository. He says a prayer, thanking the powers that be for the advent of the motor car. Without them, there would be no road-cuts to reveal the pages of knowledge that lie beneath the landscape.
The well-sorted grains in the rock reveal that this land was once the sea. The man gets on his knees to read the first chapter. He’s nose-to-nose with a wall of rock. There’s an invertebrate in the bottom layer!
The man straightens up to read chapter two. The chapter is short, but it’s exciting. It’s marked by a band of black soot, undoubtedly the result of a cataclysm.
Chapter three is dull. No life to be found. It’s a huge, dense block of sandstone and nothing more. The man scales the inclined wall to reach, perhaps a sub chapter?
A different coloured sandstone, embedded with erratic blocks of granite. A glacier passed though here not long ago, dumping its granitic pups all along the way.
The final chapter is the most exciting. Ants, trees, grasses and even a scrunched up chip packet. The man has reached the top of the wall. He’s made it to the chapter that’s still being written – the chapter with pages that are still alive. A voice pipes up. “Grandpa, is there a story like this under all the land?” The pig-tailed girl waits with wonder at what her grandpa is going to say.
“Under the land, the sea, and even up in the sky, on Mars and the moon. And there’s a story in you, and a story in me.”
“Will I become a fossil grandpa?”
“Would you like to become a fossil?” The girl nods enthusiastically.
“Well, you have a long story to write before you ever become a fossil.” He rubs her head, upsetting her perfect pigtails. “In a million years, another grandpa and granddaughter will be very excited to find such a pretty fossil.”
The two wander through the fields to see what other stories the land has to tell.