Unpublished Snippets from 84 Ribbons – The Pouch of Stones
When I cleaned out my files, I found several unused story ideas from 84 Ribbons, book one in my ballet trilogy. Here’s one more offering.
The Pouch of Stones
Walks by the bay at the end of our long street were always a chance for my dad and me to connect. We’d talk about school, my dancing, his day, our up-coming vacation plans or whatever a young child and her dad had to share. But that ended abruptly when my dad died suddenly from a fall where he worked in the shipyard. After that, the bay became a gray place with churning water I seldom visited.
Then, one summer weekend a few months later, my Uncle Rex came over to help my mom handle my dad’s garage full of tools and other impersonal belongings. When Uncle Rex suggested a walk to the bay I felt a strange sense of fear, but I agreed to walk there with him to return my dad’s bucket of polished stones into the sea.
One by one I tossed the now-smooth stones into the sea with as much force as my young arm could gather. I cried remembering my dad and our walks to the bay. I wished I was breaking windows so there’s be a sound to tie to my missing father, but there was none.
When the bucket was nearly empty I stopped. Three polished stones remained in the bottom of the bucket. I put them into my pocket and told Uncle Rex, “We can go home now.”
Uncle Rex found a small cloth pouch on my dad’s workbench and helped me slip the stones inside. For a dozen years I kept the pouch of stones with me wherever I went including school, vacations, and as a professional dancer.
Now my life has changed. I’ve returned home, broken, feeling as tumbled as the polished stones in the pouch. Is it time to return these last stones to the sea?
When I lifted my arm, it felt heavy. I cried as a chill slid through me even though it was a warm sunny day. My dad was gone, my career was gone, the man I loved was gone. I let the stones drop from my fingers onto the rocky beach and walked home.
The Truth Behind the Fiction
In the story I include a pouch of polished rocks that Marta carries with her as a token of remembrance of her dad. In truth, I used the stones as a way to pay tribute to my dad. He loved to collect and polish agates. He’d wander the beaches we visited and fill his pockets with stones then sort through and save the ones that promised to be colorful once they were tumbled in various grits of sand.
I also collected stones with him. After he died I continued collecting them but never used his polishing kit. Instead, I’ve selected stones polished by the ocean or weather and kept more than I needed in a basket which required me to look through them and eliminate a few when the basket threatened to overflow.
I’ve narrowed down my collection over the years but I still run my fingers through them, stopping to examine their uniqueness. When I travel I look for one stone to bring home as a remembrance of my travels and a remembrance of my Dad knowing he’d have enjoyed visiting the places I’ve seen around the world.