The Metal Man
The metal man walked sideways, as if he had a perpetual limp, but there was nothing inhibited about his movements; his right leg was simply longer than its counterpart.
He came from outer space, they say. Long ago he landed in the corn and trampled his way to the tavern. He nodded as if to say “hello.” The townspeople blinked, but they never cast him out.
He would stand at the edge of town, his great metal arms lifted high to the heavens, and wait for the stars. Sometimes he would moan; a small rumbling in the back of his metal throat. They say he was calling home. No one ever replied; no distant travelers, no metal men in metal spaceships, no one. He was lost.
That is what they say.
The townspeople were not unkind, but they would walk on the other side of the street when the metal man was near. He was…alien. His only friends were the birds that perched atop his hard shoulders when he waited in the night. When the weather was bad, he would stay in the hay barn and listen to the horses whinnying. He would watch their breaths dance in the cold.
Over time, the metal man watched the town change. He would walk the road and notice familiar faces were gone, replaced by new ones. Time moved slowly, like him, and all the while he stretched his arms to the sky.
The metal man realized he would never return home. So he walked where he had landed—a cornfield once, but now reclaimed by a deep wood—and reached his metal arms to the stars. He waited. And when it began to rain he did not move to the hay barn; instead, he stood and listened as the drops echoed off his body.
He thought of the town that had changed; the townspeople who were kind but did not care; his home that he would never see. He stared all night at the stars and listened as rain beat against him and the world.
When they found the metal man he was rusted, suspended; a resting place for the birds of the forest. To this day he remains in the deep wood. His arms are still raised to the heavens; his eyes fixated on the stars.
They say he is calling home.