The Channel Builder

A story, written bit by bit.

I put down my map, and collect my thoughts. A dull ache emanates from the centre of my forehead, and I prod my brow sharply, trading a more bearable pain for another. I think of the slow drips of the Great Rocks Fall.

Gently, I pry myself up off the ground until I am standing and facing the path to Great Rocks, steady and intent. My eyes sting slightly in their sockets as brows frown overhead, and I breathe in a decision.

There isn’t much water there, but there is some.

On the way down the path where trees and stones and flowers pass by me uninterrupted, I hear the conversation of a pair up ahead. A man who makes cups is listening to the other; a channel builder. The channel builder is holding a cup made from a large, broad leaf, and he is saying to the cup maker, “You know, I think you should keep making these. You don’t need to think about whether anyone will buy this as it is. So what if Great Rocks couldn’t fill a cup in a day… as long as we have patience and some juice to sustain us, all we have to do is build a channel out of this stuff to a bigger cup somewhere cooler -”

“Oh, you and your channel building!” interrupts the little cup maker.

The channel builder stares at him. “Listen to me.”

The cup maker blinks back, and sighs, “You’re just always channel building but it never gets you anywhere.”

“I know it hasn’t appeared to get me anywhere YET because I’ve been looking at it all wrong. But now, I SEE. Some of the other guys,” he begins to gesture wildly, “they build these deep channels and amazing systems in the heat of the Big Drop saying, well, if it comes, I’ll be prepared! But it never comes, not there. Sometimes I think they don’t actually care about that, they just love to build these great big complicated channel systems, and under Big Drop seems like the only place they can do it without anyone bothering them.”

“Alright, you’ve totally lost me now. What has any of what you just said got to do with me and my cups?”

“Basically, you’re just like those guys, except instead of building channels, you’re making cups. You are so focussed on your cups, and how you can make more attractive cups, that you’ve lost sight of the bigger picture.”

“So… what are you saying? I’m still lost.”

“Ok. So, cups. What do they do?”

“… Hold liquid?”

“And what does Great Rocks have that Big Drop doesn’t?”

The cup maker frowns, “Well. It’s got liquid. But it hasn’t got very much liquid. No one goes there for the liquid.”

I smile to myself.

The channel builder grins, “It’s got a steady, consistent drip of water, and the air is cool enough to collect it without too much evaporation. The flimsy material you use for you cups would be useless for channel building at Big Drop, but at Great Rocks? They’re the perfect material!”

“So you want me to build channels?”

“No dude. I’ll build the channels. I want you to make the cups.”

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