Bert Yurt dug dirt. One night when he was four, he dug up his mother’s tiny garden with a teaspoon. As the sun rose, his mother cried, ‘Oh Bert, what will I do with you?’
Bert looked up with his eyes bright, ‘Get me a bigger garden.’
By the time Bert was six, his family moved into a little house in the suburbs. One morning as the sun came over the horizon, Bert went into the backyard and dug a hole straight down. He dug through breakfast time, through lunch time, and into the late afternoon. At sunset his dad called down to him, ‘Come up, Bert.’ But Bert was so deep down he couldn’t climb out. So, his dad lowered a rope to him and pulled him back up. ‘What will I ever do with you?’ he shouted.
Bert thought long and hard on this. That night when his family went to sleep, he tiptoed into the kitchen and gathered up all the soup spoons. He tiptoed silently into the moonlight, lowered himself on the rope, and dug a tunnel under the house. At dawn his parents called frantically down to him, but by then, Bert was digging upward toward the road. By midday he’d dug a tunnel straight up to the mailbox. The mailman handed down the mail to Bert and he crawled back under the house and hauled himself out on the rope.
His parents clasped their faces in wonder, but by the next year, they bought him a farm. By this time Bert was heavy into tablespoons. One day he dug up a great wide field of potatoes. His parents stood in the setting sun and cried, ‘Oh, Bert, what’s bigger than a field of potatoes?’
How Bert’s eyes shone. They reflected straight into the setting sun. ‘A mountain!’ he cried. And as luck would have it, directly across the field, there was a mountain. A great huge mountain of green earth and rocks and trees and before his folks knew what had happened, Bert tunneled straight through that mountain and came out the other side. ‘What have you done, Bert?’ they hollered.
But then the railroad people came to see them. ‘If you widen your tunnel,’ they said, ‘we could slide our train through.’
So Bert went straight to work with knives and forks and great huge ladle spoons. And soon the tunnel was wide enough so that the train sped through with whistles blowing. Bert stood proudly in his dug up field and waved to all the passengers in the windows. Mom and Dad stood proudly beside their son and waved with him, but they waved in silence. They were afraid to ask Bert what was bigger than a mountain.
Bert Yurt is written by Suzanne Mays.
Suzanne Mays is a novelist and short story writer. Her stories are about women in search of land, family, and peace in themselves. Usually set in the mountains, they possess a quiet humor. Her novel, The Man Inside the Mountain is the story of Essie Bell, a woman who believes her son has survived the Civil War and is hiding in the mountain behind her farm.