Tag Archives: Lydia Davis

The Transformation

15 Oct

It was not possible, and yet it happened; and not suddenly, but very slowly, not a miracle, but a very natural thing, though it was impossible. A girl in our town turned into a stone.

But it is true that she had not been the usual sort of girl even before that; she had been a tree.

Now a tree moves in the wind. But sometime near the end of September she began not to move in the wind anymore. For weeks she moved less and less. Then she never moved. When her leaves fell they fell suddenly and with a terrible noise. They crashed onto the cobblestones and sometimes broke into fragments and sometimes remained whole. There would be a spark where they fell and a little white powder lying beside them.

People, though I did not, collected her leaves and put them on the mantelpiece. There never was such a town, with stone leaves on every mantelpiece.

Then she began to turn gray: at first we thought it was the light. With wrinkled foreheads, twenty of us at a time would stand in a circle around her shading our eyes, dropping our jaws-and so few teeth we had among us it was something to see-and say it was the time of day or the changing season that made her look gray. But soon it was clear that she was simply gray now, just that, the way years ago we had to admit that she was simply a tree now, and no longer a girl.

But a tree is one thing and a stone is another. There are limits to what you can accept, even of impossible things.

(Lydia Davis, 2001)