(Where I live, people collect 'heart stones' from the nearby rivers. There is one house that has quite a huge collection of them. I was driving past the other day, thinking how I'd love to have one. I never seem to find the huge ones that this person does, only little tiny ones. It occurred to me, what if someone wanted them badly? What if they made someone's heart ache, to look at all that love on display in their front yard? What would they feel, what would this mean to them? ... feel free to comment or crit, this is my first effort in awhile!)

Heart of Stone

They litter the front yard of her neighbor, like relics from capsized lovers.

Well, to call them litter would not be fair, would it? The stones are somewhat carefully placed - from the smallest to the largest - creating a path that leads to her neighbor's front door. Even more of them are arranged lovingly around that Fruitless Mulberry tree; she always checks for the Sweet Violas clinging in between. There are some rogue stones here and there that spill over onto the lawn and suffocate the grass - and no doubt, she imagines, there are brown spots flourishing underneath. Hidden from view, no one knows that the heavy hearts are killing the sweet young grass. No one sees the slugs and snails that cling to their dark, stone bellies.

At night in her own house, alone in her room, she envisions what it would be like to have one all for herself. All right, not just one... all of them. One for each shipwreck in her life. She knows exactly where she would put every one of them. In her sparse garden, the pearly moonlight would spill across them with wild abandon.

Once, each of these stone soldiers were whole, complete. She wonders if they miss the river they came from; if they felt the slow pulse, the pressure of the current breaking them down. Before the constant, unyielding violence that is water cut away the deep V's that caused them to become Hearts of Stone.

She goes to that same river every weekend. She walks the pebbled banks over and over, taking care to be surefooted (have you ever twisted your ankle on rocks? Her ankle will never be the same), looking for one - just one - to call her own. She returns to her small home every time with weightless hands. Maybe her neighbor has stolen what the river has to offer.

She entertains sneaking down the street and moving them all... scattering them down the sidewalk and across the fields behind the houses, spilling them out onto the road. Freeing them from their exile in the garden museum. But then it occurs to her that someone may not see them in the road. They might hit one of the larger hearts, and it could cause an accident. Besides, it isn't freedom, just vandalism. Cruelty. She doesn't want anyone to be harmed because of her. She's not cruel.

If only she could ignore them, stop looking. But despite her efforts, she calls out their names in her mind as she drives down the only road leading into town, right past that house. It overwhelms her to realize that every single one of them has a name, a unique event and person that haunts her. The sheer weight of even just a few - well honestly, those five particularly large ones on the West side of the front door - would be like an anchor. Yes, that's it. She would stop wandering at night, the rooms in her mind reliving every storm weathered. She would stop going to the river, always looking for a berth of her own but never finding a single one. Nowhere to rest.

She would come home for good. She would lay in the wild abandon of the moon's shimmering light, wet with dew on the cool young grass. Alone. Free. Untethered.

(c) 2008 K.A. Cole - may not be used without permission