Grand Canyon at Dawn - Arizona
You know, it gets crowded around here sometimes. Last year I had five million people stop by. About the same the year before, and the one before that. It's a lot of visitors, and you might think that over time the whole setup begins to blur, days running together, another photo, a crying kid, "wow", "amazing", "...get away from the edge!"
It wasn't always like that though. Now days the vast majority of my visitors show up by car, peer over the edge, snap a few pictures and move on.
But go back in time, and it was different. Really different. The first people I met came here thousands of years ago. There weren't that many, and they lived among the canyons and the trees. I remember plenty of them. A couple thousand years after they were here a couple of fellows showed up. Benjamin--I think of him as Ben-- and Frank. Must have been about 100 years ago now. And those two I never forgot.
Ben and Frank showed up one day with all sorts of odd equipment. They pitched a tent and they set to work with little picks and brushes, looking for things that had been left behind thousands of years ago. It was slow work, and from time to time they'd talk. Ben was married and had a little boy. Frank was engaged to a lady called Betty. That man talked about Betty like the sun rose and set on her command. He was that much in love. Ben would sit there with his pick, working a bit of stone free and humor Frank by listening to his tales. They were going to get married. They were going to travel the world. You couldn't help but be happy for the man, he was so happy himself.
Two weeks they'd been with me, chipping and talking and living out of that little tent they'd pitched up at my highest point, and then...well...something happened. Wouldn't have been any big deal if I'd been alone, because it's part of my life cycle. Something weakens a bit of stone and one day it just falls, and hey--I've got a whole new look. I don't know if it was age, or their chipping away at bits, or the weather, but it happened.
It was night, and Frank and Ben had put away their tools and fixed themselves a bit of supper. Storm clouds were rolling overhead, and they both decided to turn in early. Sometime in the night the wind kicked up and the rain started pounding. The wind was blowing something fierce! A bit after midnight I felt a crack, then another, and then it all went--a whole chunk of land right off the top of me, and the campsite with it. It only lasted a few seconds, but Frank and Ben didn't stand a chance. It's a long way to the bottom.
Thousands of years of that sort of thing is what formed me, so I can't really feel guilty about it, but I did regret it. No one ever came to carry those two out. I suppose maybe no one knew exactly where they'd been, and after a bit they were just 'missing'. Maybe someone sent out a search party, but if they did they didn't come 'round here.
I can't help but wonder what happened to Betty. Did that wonderful lady who was so loved and discussed at night ever marry? Did she find a fellow who thought she controlled the moon and the stars? Did she travel the world? I wonder if she ever came and gazed out over the canyons that surround me and wondered what became of Frank? I wonder if she ever thought he'd just run off, or if she knew that something had prevented his return. I wonder if a thousand years from now someone will come along and find his bones or his pick and sit down with their own set of tools and set to digging, hoping to bring back a piece of history to be studied.