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The Shepherds' Theory of Relativity
by John Ye

The valley was broad and endless.

There was a shepherd and a flock of sheep. Early in the morning they used to come here. The old shepherd came here with his food in a bag while the sheep came here to seek their food. When the sun set, he ate up all his food while the sheep made sure that they would have a good night without feeling hungry.

Rocks peppered the valley. Around them grew the grass, which looked green and delicious. No doubt the sheep liked to come here; otherwise the old man would not have kept all the sheep so well.

When they arrived, the sheep pushed their heads forward, shredding the grass with their teeth. They no longer worried about their food or time. They knew that the valley was very generous and their owner was very fit for his job.

The shepherd, however, had to care about the different directions of the sun in the sky or where the sheep would head.

It seemed that the sun was stuck there, so he moved his eyes down to face the rocks. As a matter of fact, he was so familiar with the rocks that he could see them even with his eyes closed. The valley was empty, no other person and no other sheep.

In the distance was another shepherd and another flock of sheep, but they were so far away that he could not see clearly or shout to be heard. Was he a young man or just as old?

If only they could have met to chat. The distance seemed to make it impossible. Besides, they didn’t even know each other.

Now the other shepherd was on his way towards him! He was just like a small rock! This shepherd told himself that he would have to wait. So he, as usual, kept his eyes closed again, without thinking about anything. However, this time he failed. He saw another shepherd and another flock of sheep. Gradually, the steps came into his ears. He shook his head, for he couldn’t believe his ears.

Oh, it was true, wasn’t it? He made sure of it and opened his eyes. There, was another shepherd walking towards him. He was the first to have come here for a long time. How excited he was! It seemed that he had come from the west. He was also an old man!

“Hi, how do you do?” the other shepherd said as he stepped up to him.

“Great thanks,” he replied.

Obviously they had the same job so they didn’t talk much about it.

Just then there came a fight between the two head sheep from each side. As everyone knew, they were struggling for the grass!

“I say, you have brought your sheep here too?” one shepherd looked a little angry.

“Sorry, but every sheep would like to eat good grass!” the other had a stronger mind.

“Go and control your sheep!” one shepherd ordered.

“You must go and separate yours first!” the other replied.

Both of them got up and walked fast towards the two sheep. They took quite a long time to separate them. Then one shepherd drove his sheep in one direction and the other shepherd drove his in the opposite direction. Then they came together again.

“Do you mind me smoking here? Have you got a match?” the other shepherd asked.

“No, go ahead, but I’ve got no match with me!” one shepherd replied, looking regretful.

“I will remember to bring a box of matches with me when I come tomorrow,” he said to himself. “He has come to see me, but I can’t do this favour for him. What a shame!”

“Oh, it’s not serious. I will do without it.” The other shepherd smiled.

The old man smiled back.

“What terrible weather we’re having!” one said.

“Yes, isn’t it?” the other responded.

“It is a very long day!”

“Yes, isn’t it.”

“Would you like to stay here longer?”

“As long as you like.”

So the two old men sat down on the top of the bigger rock. They continued talking. Whatever they talked about, no one could understand.

Soon the two head sheep came to fight again. This time they didn’t fight alone; they had brought their family members.

“Look, they have come to meet again!” the other shepherd said surprised.

“I am sure this time they have come not for the grass,” this shepherd explained.

“Sure,” the other replied. “Why, one of our sheep is standing beside your head sheep.”

“I see. This time it is a fight for love,” one shepherd said. “There will be a big fight here. We must find a way to stop them.”

“You mean you want to borrow that sheep of ours for the night?” the other shepherd asked.

“Yes.”

“Thanks.”

“Oh, look, the sun is trying to hide itself behind the hills. It is time we left.”

“How time flies!”

“Let’s go back home. Tomorrow we will meet here too.”

They went to gather their own sheep.

The other shepherd took out his matches to light his tobacco.

“This time next year I will be having a strong head sheep just like his!” one shepherd smiled.