Of a Pebble

Short Stories / Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

More rehashing. I bought some trousers yesterday, after going to four different shops, and trying on at least 50 pairs! Why don’t they make trousers in labels rather than sizes? Like here : a trouser for you – moody, irascible, sarcastic, with Indian legs, and an universal mind. Or why doesn’t someone invent a trouser-cloning machine? Imagine the best-fitting, most comfortable trousers you have – and imagine just putting it into a machine, computing different colors, and get the same, lovely fit? Sigh. I dream.

Here’s back to the rehashing:

A cool breeze surrendered to the lake its whispers of fate. Standing alone against a sky that beamed dark, H felt its coolness. The kiss of the lake licking her toes. There were no fish here. They had left a while. Long ago, when she was innocent of ways, and trusting in the universe, she remembered playing here with her cousin, L. They were inseparable, L and her. Where was L now, she wondered. Strange how time can dull the strongest, and dim the faintest to an obscure path on your memory. Would she be alive? H thought. Did it even matter? Perhaps not. Curiosity was never one of her strongest traits anyway.

The first drops of rain spattered against the rocks lining the lake. Or maybe, they weren’t even rocks, they were pebbles, she mused. It was one of those beautiful evenings that would make you awash again in life. H wondered if she should write a poem about it. The thought seemed absurd again. A dying person write a poem? It didn’t seem that history would be kind to such poets. Perhaps the rain would snatch it from her grasp, turn it over to the waiting lake. Paper turned to paper. Ink flowing into the lake. Words left unsaid. Just as her life was.

It was cold now. Looking down, her feet had turned blue. Now. Now is the time she thought, looking at the rippling waters of the rain-touched lake. It was then that she saw it. A pebble. A utterly smooth round pebble. Where did that come from, she wondered. All her life she had hunted for such a pebble. But these rough lands had never yielded anything so smooth. Only jagged edges that seemed to almost curse their sharpness. Twist, turn the cruelty inside you to the outside. Aye, that was the nature of this land.

Yet here it was. The most beautiful pebble she had ever seen. White shimmering off its surface. Cold to the touch. She looked at it in awe. Was it a sign, H wondered. Then the absurdity of that thought made her double up in laughter. Now. Now, she knew what to do. Miracles existed. This stone told her all that she didn’t know about life – hope exists. Miracles happen. The unexpected is not always a source of pain. That dreams can touch the rock of reality even now. Even now when the sun has left a lonely glow across the aching sky. Yes, now she knew what to do. The wind was howling now. Beseeching her, it seemed. She turned back, walked away from the lake, back towards the car. The doors were open, flailing wildly in the wind. Humming a song, she kept the pebble lovingly, tenderly on the passenger seat. Lie safe there my love, she murmured. It seemed alive then. Did it blink, she wondered? Carve your own journey now, she told the pebble. Hope. Love. Care. Act all through life as if these exist. Pretend to mock deceptions. Be a deception. Be smooth as you are. Let no knife tear you to jagged corners. Be a stone, she smiled. The pebble seemed to pause, almost turn around in its seat…but she was gone.

With a joyful cry that mocked the skies that cradled the dead sun that created all this life below, she was gone. Into the lake. Into its deepest bosom. Through its darkest depth. The wind stopped. The pebble lay dead. But she, H, was alive.

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