Catherine felt the soft rumbles in the ground, and she shot up to catch a glimpse of the creature as it passed. Her spying eye was just in time, catching a glimpse of the giant’s head before it disappeared below the green fields of the horizon. She grabbed her dolly, a sturdy thing with bright red yarn for hair, and darted across the garden. Her mother must have felt the quakes as well, for she came running out of the back door screaming, begging Catherine to stop, to come home. But the words were useless. Catherine was in full sprint, and her mother struggled along after her.
Her young feet tore through the wet furrows her father and the family oxen had pulled a week before, stamping next to green sprouts that were beginning their reach for heaven. The field curved up a small hill, the very hill that blocked her view from the giant, and her legs seared with fire as she ran up it. Her pace was relentless, and her mother’s panicked voice grew ever distant as she pulled away. She ascended over the hill, and the giant came into view.
The giant looked old, tired, as it lumbered down toward the cliffs near the ocean’s edge. Its gray skin was cracked and weathered, and large patches of cirrhosis covered its skin. It labored down to a small section of trees and sat, its head still residing several feet higher than the new branches. As it rested, it slumped forward, and Catherine ran faster. A fear was blooming in her heart, a fear that the giant would hunch forward more and more and simply disappear forever. Her wild legs gained speed as she ran down the back side of the hill toward the creature. As she neared the bottom, she heard one last plea from her mother, desperate with worry, a last-ditch effort to send some sense into the girl’s head. It didn’t work.
Catherine came into the small forest near the ocean. The giant laid on its side as Catherine came closer and stretched its long arm out. As she rounded the creature’s hand, she saw the cracked skin on the knuckles, the worn calluses in the palm. The nails were thick and yellow. This was a very old giant.
She approached its face and found its eyes already closed. Heavy breaths pushed the dirt away like gusts of wind. Each inhale was labored, each exhale was one step closer to death. Catherine felt a sadness take her heart.
“Are you okay, Mr. Giant?” she asked.
The large creature opened its eyes and showed her an ocean of blue. It gave her a loving smile before closing those weary lids once more. “Giant tired,” it said. “Giant sleep forever now.”
Young Catherine was drawn closer by the creature’s obvious gentle nature, and laid her hand on its cheek. “Will you be okay?” she asked.
One large eye cracked open and spied the little girl. Her ankles were covered in mud, and her face shone with sweat. It smiled. “Giants all gone now,” it said. “When I sleep, all giants go away.”
Catherine’s young face tightened with pain. “All gone? No!” she whimpered. She slid her hand back and forth across the giant’s leathery skin. “You’re the first giant I’ve seen my whole life,” she said. “You can’t be the last.”
In the distance, the worried cries of Catherine’s mother were becoming clearer.
The giant smiled one last time. “Giant’s live in your heart now, young one. Carry us well.” It reached up with a tree stump of a thumb and gave her a tender rub on the head. Catherine smiled, the giant closed its eyes, and exhaled its final breath. Below, the ocean waves smashed upon the rocks, and the cool breeze worked to soothe the hot tears streaking down Catherine’s face.