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The Monument: a ghost story

by Benjamin Parsons

Copyright 2011 Benjamin Parsons

Smashwords edition, license notes

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There is a mountain that stands beside the sea, and at the top of it is a monument, raised to commemorate someone who nobody now remembers. Coarse gales blowing in off the water, and the coarse hands of the young and no-longer young, have between them entirely effaced the letters of the inscription, leaving the stone column mute, and the person it was intended to immortalise, forgotten.

But I believe I know who that mountain-top obelisk was intended to recall, and why it was set up to gaze forever out at the winds and tide; however, I’ve no intention of recounting some tale of long ago. Suffice to say that, sometimes, a modern history will carry such a flavour of the past, that to tell the new is to tell the old at the same time; so I will begin by saying that there is a small harbour at the base of this mountain, and in the town there lived a very lonely young man— lonely on account of the fact that he felt misunderstood. That is, he felt that his work was misunderstood— for you should know he was a poet and composer, and was always writing new songs.

When his confidence was high, he would play his latest composition to some relative, or companion he had cultivated for the purpose, and they would sit patiently and listen, and afterwards applaud, and say that it was very good. But this would not do enough for the artist; he would ask them for more, for their reactions, their interpretations of what they had heard. Then the hapless audience would stumble and stutter, until at last they would remark that it reminded them of— or was very like— or had a flavour of— some other tune they knew, which they would eventually be brought to confess they never really liked in the first place.

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