Dreams of Beginning, Part One
6 April 1830
It’s a beautiful spring day. Joseph and his father are walking up a steep hill. The farther they walk, the steeper the hill becomes. The tools in Joseph’s hands grow heavy. His father begins to get ahead, Joseph is afraid he will not be able to keep up. Joseph drops the tools and increases his pace. The slope gets steeper and the grass gives way to rock. Joseph has to half-climb, half-walk to keep moving ahead. He can hear his father’s feet against the rock ahead, but he can’t see much at all anymore.
Joseph stops hearing his father. He’s worried about him, and increases his pace. Joseph’s lungs burn. His hands sting as they grasp the rocks, but he has to get to his father, has to make sure he’s still alive.
Joseph makes it up the steepest part of the trail and sees his father and brothers at a flat space ahead, standing in the shadow of a wall of rock too steep to climb. We’re ready to cut, says Alvin. He looks at Joseph, says: Do you have the tools?
Joseph’s heart sinks.
It’s all right, says Hyrum, we’ll just use our hands. When Joseph reaches out to tug at the rock, though, he leaves a red mark. His hands, lacerated from the climb, are bleeding.
William gets angry. He slams his fist against the rock. He storms off down the hillside. Samuel goes to talk him down. Hyrum follows, hoping that when William calms down, he can talk him into coming back.
Joseph and Alvin follow at a safe distance.
Then there’s a strange sound behind them. Even without them, a rock has been cut. Joseph sees it in the distance, and it’s stirring. He turns to Alvin in excitement, but Alvin looks worried. He says it’s getting bigger. He says it’s coming toward them. Joseph begins to run—he thought Alvin was running with him, but soon he notices that no one is beside or behind him, though Hyrum, Samuel, and William are still ahead. Joseph runs as fast as he can down the rocky slope, and he catches up to Hyrum. The rock is bigger, and they can hear it rolling closer and faster. It makes a dull roar and they are nervous. They catch up to Samuel and the rock is closer now, and sounds like it’s gaining speed, and nervousness inches toward terror.
They run faster than is safe down the hill, turning over their control to the slope itself, letting it hurtle their legs in ever-faster circles downward, now they run abreast of William also and the rock is still closer they can feel its presence at their backs and any moment now, Joseph thinks, the slope will become more gentle again and perhaps the rock will slow down—but no, it’s still steeper and perhaps becoming steeper and it’s steep for as far as their eyes can see and then they are running with the rock, in the rock, and Alvin and father are there in the rock with them and perhaps they will live the rest of history locked in stone.