The Parable of the Three-Legged Stool – L. Fid


There I was, fat, dumb and happy. A three-legged stool.

A glint on the horizon demanded my attention, then it was gone.

My leg. Gone! The southwestern one.

Involuntarily, I reeled back, northeast. I wobbled slightly, then somehow achieved a precarious balance on my remaining two legs.

I surveyed the situation, as best I could in my panic, without moving the slightest. I saw nothing — nothing else, besides, well, you know — out of the ordinary.  No glints, no kindling debris, no smoking ozone burn.

Naturally, I mostly feared an unseen wind, or a sudden change of any sort, might knock me over. I was staying upright, but what of the internal mechanism maintaining this balance? Could it slow, unwind, turn off?

I tried to identify the processes ongoing in my remaining components but could not visualize the magic widget.

I then wondered if it was some aspect of my consciousness. I wandered down this path, trying to identify an archetypal psychological strand, to run experiments, and then to control it — this part of my mind. That’s what I needed to do. This was what I was thinking about, anyway, when it came on.

I started wobbling again, badly. I fought, wildly and to worse effect.

Finally, I fell. I just gave in, accepted the inevitble.

But then my body, broken and disfigured, limbless and off-balance, caught me and steered me upright again. My body, this two-legged stool.

Well, a stool no more. I am not to be sat upon.


I am bored, thought the two-legged stool.

She had meditated, somewhat as before, somehow managing to hold a center within the mind-racing vortex of distress and worry over her life-altering disfigurment. She emerged through that vortex, high above a desolate plain where god-driven herds mass, before realizing she had been asleep and waking up, to this.

Feeling suddenly queasy, as if she might keel over forward, she willed herself to lean back. At the expense of a few frightful wobbles, she learned to will herself forwards and back, around a small arc — her seat askew from high to low.

She must have an adjastable center of balance, the best she could tell.

But she was not going to focus on that. It was enough to find the correct balance for the situation and let the body take over. She felt lightheaded now, different at least.

She realigned her brushweed-free platonic horizon across the long ago noted, then forever unseen, canyon, arranging overlapping spheres of epistimological concepts. Laying out the old logic games again, planning the same grid of variables: weather and the periodic intrusion of fast ones — rabbits, birds, snakes, lizards, coyotes, snartelfromm — all were factored into the equations.

Her eyes, from under the tipped seat, tilt down. Everything in the dirt and crumbled remains of the long abandoned patio, to a radius of about 12 feet, is much more sharply in focus now.

The distubance — her amputation! — had repositioned her slightly.

She startled wobbling again and felt nauseus.

Her eyes rolled backwards where, after a few seconds of readjustment, I can see a few broken shards in the hole, an oval pit of the missing leg, in the underseat’s arc.

I start to hurl. And… What even, would that be?

I look down, focus on the local flora and fauna, such as it is. Again, I try to catalog items of interest.

It calms me, but after a while it made me sick in a different way.

I started to tip, pulled back, fell again.

Some say her spirit still wavers in tiny circles above our moral crises. You’ve heard that, now, hmm… Right?

Well, anyway, the two-legged stool circled like that, here and then.

To a casual observer she just closed her eyes and rocked a long while, maybe asleep, since she did not stir much for the next sixteen hours.

Eventually, when she did open her eyes again, there was a blur in the space from 10-12 feet out to the broke fence brushline. It was a strange twilight, the same as the last time, mostly forgotten. The sky would darken, then lighten, according to fast cloud logic. There were sometimes flashes in the distance.

Actually, she had to admit, she was unsure what was real and what fancy.

How much happened and for how long here? No one could really know — yet, again, as always, the slow dissolve back into the material plane.

Here or there.

Where is the balance between surrender and the wisdom to act, if even to duck, or… She was feeling amazingly relaxed and somehow missing that thrill of release, the giving in, the redemption of the body, falling.

Would it work? Could I right myself again? It seemed a foolish risk, not something I could have imagined that I would ever willingly contemplate.

I was indeed different now. I had survived an ordeal.

I fell forward and my body threw out a leg.

I learned to walk.


I walked a long while.

I learned the canyon was not in the place I thought it was, thankfully, as I was basically sliding down a mountainside as it was.

To me, everything had seemed so flat or, at most, gently rolling, a garden of contemplative delight. No.

There were strange plateaus where the ice sheet receeded off the mountain, pushing and flattening the land, but with unexpected fissures. You’re often either right up against one of those or perched precariously high above  a rocky river bottom, on one of long finger roots of the mountains pushing up suddenly here and there.

She proved remarkably adept and hearty and traversed it all.

She moved like the fast ones, of necessity. After passing the toppled remains of the his closest neighbor, he soon she saw many more dead tables, then chairs and a stool. Then another. All dead. Inanimate.

Why? What was I? What was the world? He walked the land. She kept pace. They were one. He was fractured. Not right in the head? Maybe, maybe not.

Anyway, I grew to understand the land and its inhabitants. With some spritely assistance, I repair and maintain myself to this day, of this recounting, anyhooze!

Regardless, nevermind my digression, after experimenting with different prosthetics, I ended with what I where now.

This. Retractable. Fairly solid when extended.

Do in a pinch, anyway, but then, would still not withstand a sitting, obviously.

Regardless, I’m not putting in a third leg and getting used and owned again. I have this retractable tool of many functions, many unknown, some unknowable…




L. Fid is a member of a pseudonymous arts collective dedicated to world

Leave a Reply