I rub the stone between my thumb and my pointer finger, “Moi, je suis calme.”
It’s a small stone, no stone of destiny to be sure, but I did swipe it, along with other specimens from a stream along Sligachan Valley. Each had a story. I’ve had plenty of experiences with river bed stones; imagining their histories.
Once, my sister and I found an ovular one that resembled the profile of a dolphin head. The story that one must have had. A jagged jutting cliff off the side of the Appalachian, broken away eons ago. It tumbled and rolled, losing it’s angles until it fell into a stream. A stream that grew into a river, torrential waters roving around the once-cliff and its brethren. Pressing, pushing, condensing, breaking away. As the dolphin took shape, it swam, to rest into the bottom of the river, as it again became a stream, where I, 13 or 14 decided to play in instead of the pool at the hotel with my sister.
This one, hard in my hand, black. The moisture from my hand increases the shade. A remnant from the Black Cuillins? Miles from its home, resting with blue and grey stones from other origins?
“You are no stone of destiny,” I say to it, and I roll it from the tip of my middle finger to my wrist. Letting the weight sit for a second until I roll it back again.
I had a larger stone, one I used as a paper weight in college. He was a sandstone colour, though perhaps not actually sandstone. He was almost a perfect circle, with the middle wider than the edges. But then he flattened to one side. The bottom resembled a potato. I named him Philip, for reasons, not really known–a reference to a children’s show I watched in High School. I thought he was imported, added to the terrain from a distant riverbed to help with erosion in the garden. I am not so sure, however. The sandhills may not have always been sandhills, and the Broad River may not have always been where it is today. Philip may have traveled as any normal stone, by water, not by truck. But now he is with me, I must be a stone klepto.
That trip to Isle of Skye, I learned to skip rocks, but I must have kept more rocks than I actually threw. Such beautiful ones, the way they glistened from the water and the neverending twilight of the north. How do I describe them? I only remember they were beautiful. I took one from Ireland. Only one, and not from a ruin, I heard that was illegal. But when I returned to the states, how odd they must have thought I was, a pocket full of stones in my bag!
I am no geologist, do not think I sat at home analysing each, discovering their real foundations. For now, I let them lie, safe from the force of water which weathers and wears them into grains, into sands. When you get that small, how do you know which is where it all began?
“My thoughts are rambling again.” This stone has so much more history than I shall ever have. I will be dust, and still it goes on. We cannot say it does not have a life. Because it does not want for food, or shelter, it still lives, “That sounds vaguely like a hindu.”
I want to celebrate it. I want to press it to my forehead and store a memory inside the stone, to live on after I am gone. What good does the memory serve the stone? Maybe then, I have given it soul. Or I have added onto it. I cannot say no one, or nothing has done it before. It certainly does not look like a stone some massive skirted-man would have tossed, but maybe, once, it was.
“Moi, je suis calme.”