13. Pebbles

Here is a sad story I heard. There is a son, who is old now, whose mother died when he was young. They lived out in the country, down Bull Run Road, and she was buried in their family plot. Every Sunday he can, he still goes out to her grave and sits with her. He then leaves something, a small rock, a penny, his receipt from lunch, just a little something to let her know he’s still there.

And there is a mother, who died when her son was still young, who rises early, every Sunday morning, and walks from the cemetery to the old farm house where her son still lives and she leaves on his doorstep something, a small rock, a twisted root, a fine layer of dirt, the feather from a molting bird, an earthworm.  And she sits in the rocker on the front porch, all Sunday morning, just trying to spend some time with her son.

Neither knows of the other’s habit.

Only the small neighbor girl knows this. If she isn’t forced to go to church, she will run through the cow pasture and hide herself behind the old stone wall. She peeks over to watch the two of them pass right through each other.

“When I’m a grown-up,” she says to herself, later, in her room, “I will tell them.”

But when she is grown, she convinces herself that she imagined them.

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10 thoughts on “13. Pebbles

  1. That gave me chills, not in the scary way, but in the “I’m absolutely sure that has actually happened even though this particular story is fiction” way.

  2. I’ve really liked some other stories and didn’t know there was so much room left for increased enjoyment. But this one just did something to me. thanks

  3. This is a theme I don’t see often enough in fiction, though I don’t read nearly as much fiction as I watch. Are there things (spiritual, supernatural, etc.) that we perceive when we are young that our cultural conditioning eventually convinces us aren’t real? Or is our juvenile perception occasionally incapable of processing perfectly real, natural, and explicable phenomena, and therefore translates it as something else?

  4. Sam, I wonder about that, too, and I have to believe it’s a little bit of both–that some stuff we perceive as real as children is real but we are culturally conditioned out of it and that other stuff is explicable, we just, as children, don’t understand it.

  5. Sam, ouuuuuuuch. I take B’s story to be about loving reminders: here, this is my world now. I don’t actually believe that the souls/spirits of the dead exist in a state that would make such gifts possible, but it’s a lovely idea.

  6. Today, my music box stopped working. I wind it up occasionally to “hear from” my dad; it’s one of the few presents he ever bought for me himself and specifically handed to me. I can’t tell you how bad it’s making me feel that his voice, so’s to speak, is no longer something I’ll be physically able to hear.

  7. I understood your meaning, nm, and I agree completely. I was just indulging in a wee bit of morbid humor.

    B., when I was a (literal) child I believed I had access to all the answers of the universe (fundamentalist religious education can do that to you). The older I get, though, the more I realize that I know nothing. And I’m becoming increasingly comfortable with having some things remain mysterious.

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