The Crystal Mountain

Somewhere in the world is a crystal mountain. People often ask it why it’s made of crystal, to which it replies:

“Why does green make you feel happy?”

To which a number of psychologists opened their mouths, but the mountain quickly added:

“It’s a rhetorical question. I don’t know why I’m made of crystal. Why would I know the answer to that?”

To which the philosophers opened their mouths–

“Rhetorical question, guys.”

Now, inside the mountain were several angler fish and goblin sharks, and they could be seen through the sides of the mountain. They swam about within the mountain, completely unperturbed by the implausibility of their own existence. Various people tried to ask the fish how they could possibly survive inside a mountain, and how they could survive without food, for none of them were ever seen to eat.

This proceeded to do nothing but give the mountain a headache, about which it complained loudly.

At the centre of the mountain was a star, which shone very brightly at night and faintly during the day.

“How does it change brightness like that?” the people asked the mountain, correctly assuming that trying to ask the star this would end the same way as the fish interrogation.

“What about my questions?” asked the mountain. “Why do you get to ask me all the questions? Don’t I get answers, too?”

The adults all looked at each other, trying to figure out if they should be offended.

“What answers?” said a five-year-old.

“Oh, I like this one. This one’s smart.” Then the mountain leaned in close – complete with its implausible fish and changeable star – and continued in a quieter voice. “Why do people say they’ll be friends forever with someone only to not call them when they move away?”


The mountain harrumphed. “Well, why do children make fun of one child just like them and exclude that child from their number?”

“Because they’re weird.”


The five-year-old thought about it. “Probably not.”

“Then why?”


“You’re not being particularly helpful.”


The mountain leaned back. “Does anyone else have an answer?”

All the people around the mountain began speaking all at once, but none of them could agree on the answers to the mountain’s question. After more of this than it could stand, the mountain shouted at them all to be quiet and leaned in towards the five-year-old again.

“I gather no one else knows the answers to those questions, either. They just take more words to finally say it. Why don’t they know the answers?”

The five-year-old, who had never considered that adults might not know something, had to think very carefully. “Maybe they’re not old enough yet.”

“What do you mean?”

“Sometimes when I ask questions, my parents say:” the five-year-old pointed a finger at an imaginary child and said in a lower voice “‘You’ll understand when you’re older.'”

“What do you do when they say that?”

“I stick my tongue out at them. Then I play with my toys.” The five-year-old held up a set of Lego. “These are my favourite.”

“I’ve never played with toys before.” The mountain looked sad. “I don’t even have toys.”

“Do you want to play with mine?”

“May I?”

“Yeah! Here, you can be this one…”

So, while all the people looked on, the mountain and the five-year-old sat down together to build a kingdom, with a unicorn and a dragon and lasers and spaceships and mountains and cars and aliens and knights…

Frankly, they ignored everything else so thoroughly that all the people left them to their play.

It was the best day ever.

This story was originally sent to my email list, and first appeared on the web on The Twins of Darkness and Good, where Liana Brooks, Amy Laurens, and I post short, unedited, mostly-weekly fiction.

Amy Laurens is currently running a serial story called The League of Absolutely Ordinary Superheroes. There are five parts so far and the latest one involves the League… preparing for a math competition? Clearly, there’s something nefarious afoot.

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