At the center of a field stood a statue of a woman on a pedestal,
slightly larger than life. The kids who played in the field sometimes
climbed on it, until one of them pressed his head against hers and
heard her breathing, felt her breath against his cheek. After that
they all stayed a good distance from the statue, and when they talked
about it they whispered, in case it could hear.
They got scared when one of the kids ran out at night and carved
a mustache on the statue's upper lip. The kid came back with the skin
rubbed off on his fingertips and everyone was surprised by the blood.
After that nothing happened. The kids who played in the field
moved on to playgrounds. Then to jungles. They hollowed out some
trees and lived inside them. From then on breathing was like a dream
once forgotten, a childhood statue. Until the day a woman came. Her
face resembled the statue's. She peeled the bark off the trees and
the children breathed new air. "Are you our mother?" they asked.
"No," the woman said, "I am just gathering firewood."