What We Give
Since the time my girls were little, I tried to teach them how to give.
Not just stuff, not the cursory item picked up at the mall, but something from the soul.
It's not easy to do this, and we don't always have time. But there are these moments when it happens and I catch my breath. A little piece of soul translated into a picture, sculpture, poem, story, necklace, something or other.
My Littlest just had her birthday. For over a month, my twelve-year-old secretly prepared a gift. First she wrote, then illustrated, typed, photographed, learned basic desktop publishing skills, cut-folded-glued.
I smile at the title, of course. The Stone. But more than that, I smile, even weep, at the poetry of the story. So beautiful, I think, I must share a few snippets with you...
It was round and sort of ovalish and it was purple, most of the time. Sometimes it decided to be blue, or orange, but mostly it liked to be purple. And that's what color it was when someone found it. Someone... special. Only someone special could find it; that was the way it was made. But at first glance this person might not look so special... but it knew. It had been found, so this person was special, very special indeed...
She put the stone in her pocket, stepped towards the door... and fell through. Oh!, thought Tina. For she was nowhere she knew. She was on a cliff, above a sea, with a fog around her, and it was snowing in little gusts but the wind was pulling it off the edge of the cliff. This seems lonely, she thought, sat down and hung her feet over the edge. I do believe I'm dreaming.
Tina was feeling lonely. And tired. And scared. And tired. And alone. And— her thoughts were going around and around and not going anywhere.
The color was Dragons. Every inch of it filled with dragons. Dragons all sizes and colors, some as small as your hand, others bigger than mountains. There was no describing it. Maybe, maybe a painter could capture it, but even a photo would look pale and dirty beside the real thing. It was so beautiful none of them remembered to be scared.
Tina was not eaten. She was not killed, and she had not spontaneously combusted, which is supposed to be impossible, but impossible things were not being that reliably impossible right then.
The dragon was about the size of a yardstick and very purple. It walked forwards. It stared at Tina majestically for a moment with its deep purple eyes, cocked its head and blew smoke into her face. Tina started to cough. The older dragons looked disapprovingly at the little dragon. The little dragon looked at the ground. But its expression showed it was not sorry at all.
The sky was dark and grey and ominous looking. Suddenly it started to pour. Everyone rushed inside as the rain beat down on the house and the grass and the island. It washed away all the dust and the dirt and the still air and brought with it a coolness that only happens in a rain.
"Shhhh, I'm thinking," said Tina quietly. Aaron drew some pictures in his notebook the man had given him. A mountain with a castle on top, a misty woods, the sea. He decided to go to the beach on this side, the only place the island didn't end in sheer cliffs, to do something and get away from all this arguing. Alice saw him get up and followed him. He didn't mind her. She would just start walking next to him, looking at something, occasionally leaning down to pick up a shell or an interesting piece of driftwood. As they walked along, a fragment of the conversation drifted down on the breeze. "The heir..."
Excerpts from "The Stone," by Sara, 12. Photo by L.L. Barkat.