I am walking on a path through the woods. I’m thinking of myself today as played by Gellar, but if you were walking with me, I might sometimes be someone else if you were to glance over at me. I especially might be one of the boys, but I could also be Macy or Gordon-Levitt. You can think about me however you’d like. It doesn’t matter much, since I’m alone, and I’m not clearly distinguishing who I am.
Right. But especially the boys.
I’m walking along a sort of road that has been cleared through the woods, on the side of a hill. Along the road-like clearing runs a power line. The wooden poles have long cross-beams. with the old-fashioned glass insulators where line meets pole. I’ve found one or two loose insulators lying on the ground here before. I think that the road was originally a road, but now it looks as though it was cleared just for the power line.
I stop, turn and look back to the West, down the hill. Through the trees I can just make out the large stone house that contains the conversation room. I can see it mainly because it is fall, my favorite time of year, so the foliage has thinned out.
I continue up the hill a few yards, and then look to my right. There in the woods, between fifteen and thirty feet away from the road, is the ruin of what was a large, circular stone structure. My father told me when I was young that it was a “kiln” used for brick-making. When he told me, he pronounced it so that the ‘n’ was silent, and it sounded like “kill.” He emphasized at the time that the ‘n’ was silent.
Since then, most of the people I’ve encountered who talk about kilns pronounce the n. I remember thinking it was strange when I first got around people who did molded ceramics a lot, and found that they pronounced it this way, but when I looked it up, I found sources that said both pronunciations get used.
In retrospect, I now remember that I was forcibly struck by the fact that this structure was called a “kill.” That was my first impression: that the word was “kill,” as in cause to die, murder. That was why my father emphasized the silent letter. The image arises of a group of people bringing a victim here, and killing him. I probably wouldn’t have known the word at the time, but I think I was envisioning some kind of ritual killing.
I remember catching a caterpillar when I was young, finding some matches, and burning the caterpillar to death in a small fire in a lid from a jar. The whole time I was doing it, I chanted to myself (out loud? I’m not sure) “the sacrificial fire burns on.” I’m not sure where I had learned anything about sacrifice. I did this on the stone porch, right outside the conversation room.
The kiln (kill) is intact enough that one can easily tell it is circular, but a good many stones have fallen or been pulled away, and the center is mostly full of earth. It’s possible to walk around behind it and get on top, standing on the mound of earth in its center. There are a number of smaller stones near what was originally the opening in which fire was made. I walk over to them, and choose a stone that is somewhat irregular, but was perhaps a (decorative?) part of the arch over the opening for the fire. I pick it up. It probably weighs between three and five pounds; I’m not really a good judge of weight.
This is the stone that I am supposed to take with me back to the conversation room. I do not know why yet.
There is a soft, cool breeze blowing. It occurs to me that I love these woods.
I look up at the top of the hill, where I can see the place at which the old road runs into a fence. On the other side of the fence is a paved road. Just down that paved road a few hundred feet is a house.
I used to go and visit a man who lived in that house. He let me read his Playboy magazines. He treated me kindly, but never inappropriately. He just let me look at the magazines. He once told me that if Jesus showed up nowadays, they’d think he was a hippie and throw him in jail.
I turn and make my way back down the path toward the house, carrying the stone.
The kill stone.