Painted Rocks

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: Booksie Classic

I woke to a gentle rapping on my door. The door opened a crack and a head peeked in, a soft halo of light touching auburn hair from the hallway behind. "It's time to get up, little dove." Momma cooed.

I offered a soft grunt of dismay and pulled the cover tighter to my warm cheek. "I don't wanna." I mumbled. The bed was warm and the sun had yet to show its face, one of the lesser appeals to the changing, New England seasons.

"What's wrong?" She asked, already knowing the answer. I felt her weight sink onto the edge of my bed.

"Can I please stay home today, Momma?" I pleaded.

"If you have good reason, perhaps."

I contemplated her rebuttal, aware she knew my reason but wanted to hear it from my lips. I felt the words I wanted to say wedged in my throat. "I just miss Gramma. Very much." My voice was small and muffled by the safe fabric of my comforter.

She sighed. "Me too, little dove. Me too." She ran a soft hand over the crown of my head and planted a kiss. We sat in silence for a bit, my mother finally conceding and padding across the room, shutting the door gently behind her.

What felt like hours later, I woke to soft sunlight beaming through my window and the tantalizing smell of bacon wafting from the kitchen. I grabbed my favorite blanket and set out, my stomach grumbling its protest to my late slumber. I sat down at the table, my mother set a plate before me, and sat across as we ate in silence.

Her voice broke our content quiet, "we are going to go for a drive after breakfast." I looked up in question. "Dress warm." Was her only answer to my silent inquiry.

I brushed my teeth and dressed - donning my favorite scarf, the one Gramma made for my birthday this past June. You could always count on her to knit you winter attire, no matter the current season. I shoved my nose into the soft strands, inhaling deeply. It still smelled like her - peppermint and lilac. I felt the familiar sadness swoop into my belly.

We made our way to my mother's secret destination, the heat and soft melodies soothing us into a cozy reverie. I dozed off for a bit, the content drive too much for my heavy eyes.

My mother touched my shoulder, "we're here."

I blinked the sleep away as I stepped from the car. I immediately felt appreciation for my warm coat and yellow scarf as a chilled wind blustered by. Seagulls squawked overhead and the salt air filled my lungs. Momma had brought us to the ocean. "What are we doing here, Momma?"

"You'll see, little dove." She replied as she grabbed a box out of the trunk. We walked down to the shore where Momma placed an old sheet and gestured for me to sit. "When you think of Gramma, what do you miss, little dove?" She asked as she opened the box.

I glanced at her, surprised. "What didn't I miss?" would have been an easier question.

"I miss her smile and apple pie. I miss playing games with her and her tickling my feet. Most of all, I miss her warm hugs." I sniffed. She grabbed my hand and squeezed.

"And when you think of Gramma now, what do you feel?" She asked, looking up.

Reluctant to answer, I peered inside her mystery box and saw a rainbow of painted rocks. The painted rocks that Gramma and I made for her this past Mother's Day, one of our last projects together. I hesitated in my reply, trying to understand what it was my mother had planned. She looked at me expectantly. "Well, I feel sad. Very sad. And lonely, mostly when I do my homework or watch Wheel of Fortune. And…" I stopped, feeling slightly ashamed.


I looked down at my hands. "Angry." I whispered. She clutched my hand and I brought my eyes to meet hers. She gave me a reassuring look. She reached into the box and removed three rocks- one black, one gray, and one deep blue. She handed me the gray rock first.

"This one is loneliness." She stated. "I want you to place this rock into the water."

I stared at her a moment, trying to decipher the puzzle my mother had thoughtfully made for me. Giving in, I placed the gray rock into the soft, wet sand- just at the water's edge. I watched as a wave crashed onto the shore and carried my rock away in a series of tumbles and sways. I brought my gaze to my mother, not fully understanding what this was but feeling an unexpected doleful relief. She handed me the black rock next, "Anger."

I toyed with it in my hand. My last vision of my Gramma whirled before my eyes. I felt a spark of what the rock represented. Again, I placed the rock onto the shore as the ocean claimed it as its own in a weightless dance. One rock remained. This time, I picked it up without prompt and looked at it, the dark blue resonating deep inside.

"Sadness," I whispered. She nodded and guided my hand to the sand. I pulled away, a rush of panic rising within. I held the rock close. "I don't think I'm ready yet, Momma."

Slowly, she took her hand away. "Okay, little dove. Hold onto it a bit longer." She waited quietly as I held the rock, feeling it's heaviness against my chest. I looked to the horizon and I saw it all so clearly- my Gramma's last days. The sounds of the soft beeping and whooshing surrounded me as I held her hand each night, her there but not. I remembered that last night, when I had squeezed her hand one final time and could have sworn she squeezed back. A sob escaped me as I finally laid the rock to rest. Without hesitation and as if the water knew what must be done, it pulled the deep blue rock away, disappearing into the ocean's abyss.

I sat there for a bit, watching the waves come and go, feeling a sense of numbness that had nothing to do with the chilly air.

Momma broke my reverie. "Little dove, there are three rocks left." She planted them down- one yellow, one pink, one lilac. "Happiness, love, and laughter." Her voice was tender.

I motioned for the rocks, making the assumption my task was the same. She stopped me as she pulled a small, knit bag in Gramma's familiar stitching from out her pocket.

"No, little dove." She uttered as she opened the bag and placed each rock inside. Closing the bag, she placed the strap around my shoulder, her hand lingering in comfort as she forced me to meet her loving eyes. "These, we keep."

Submitted: October 28, 2020

© Copyright 2020 a.m. sharpe. All rights reserved.

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