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  • I could summarize this whole story with one, maybe two or three words, but these are all, well almost all of the words that came to my mind and hand when I remembered a true thing that happened to me. Compelled, I wrote them down, because before, the hurt was sucking me dry. It was the paper, the pen, the betrayal of things that stay and the things that have to go, that dizzied me as if dangling from a ledge, or a daring clothesline. My thin skin toughened as I added layer upon layer over time. This is what exposed me in the end. It’s been the paper that I have been afraid of, because on it was written blood. My blood. I held it all in until I was ready to pin it to the floor.

    My heart has been like a creaky door that hasn’t been opened in a long, long time. I just needed to hear it creak and know I wasn't going to die, to open a bit, and let some light in by doing the only thing I know to do that works. By writing it down, feeling my wings beat slowly at first, and not so terrified of the pen’s scratch on paper.

    Here is the story, with more than one word, and a little more light, as time has allowed.

    The old copper pipe froze, expanded, and burst last winter during a hearty and heavy ice storm. From the crack, water spewed and flooded the bottom floor of our house. With the flood, much was lost. Clothes, toys, furniture, books but most precious to me were the years of my personal journals. Journals that I wrote in every morning. From the pools of water I picked up the journals, pages that were not paper anymore, but sponges full of water. I tried to save and salvage them, but couldn’t. The ink ran away from the pages into small tidal pools. As the sheets dried, the water acted as glue and I couldn’t separate the pages. My world, home, our daily lives were turned upside down because of the flood. Rebuilding occurred with insurance and contractors, but what couldn’t be bought or rebuilt was the past that I recorded in my journals. As time went on, mold set in, then the smell of decay soon followed.

    But I still saved them. Paper bricks, with pages stuck together, rested on the top shelf of my closet, sealed in a plastic bag. The words were illegible and faded, but existed as a remnant of history. I could have saved my memories in a virtual space, but I prefer my thoughts close to me, in my hands. Now I could have smacked myself for these lofty sentimental notions. I had nothing. That history was the only one I’ll get and I didn't want to let go of it. At least not yet.

    It seems my past had become uninhabitable to everyone but myself. Excavation brought me remorse and guilt, not knowing how to find a knew stable structure and organization of design. I floundered after the flood. An inchworm outstretched and blindly rearing for a new hold. My family was exhausted from sleeping on the couch and living out of boxes on the floor. We survived. There was no thriving. Now, the ghostly words sat on molded pages, rancid, stagnant pages and they were all that I had left to hold onto. The bricks of moldy paper called out to me to be offered as tinder. To let go again.

    Late in the summer, I stopped by a new garden supply store. As I walked around, I was captivated by the outdoor fire pits and fire places. The use of stone and design was beautiful and I stuck around to find out who made something so captivating. A lady approached me in a very fast flutter. Her presence didn’t scream “gardening type”. She had a very decorative manicure, polished with neon pink paint and small designs on the tips. Her hair was in flopsy doodles on top of her head and her clothing was a mishmash of patterns, colors and designs but in her eyes I found a direct gaze I could trust. I asked her who made these beautiful creations.
    “I did,” she replied.
    “You?” I said in a way that sounded rude but was really my surprise taking air. I was shocked. The stones were so big and she was so small… how did she pick up these huge stones?
    In broken English she said that “you don’t pick them up, you just roll them around. You can do it too. And It will be cheaper, better if you do it yourself".

    Note to self, for future use: a woman like this will get you in to a lot of trouble. She’ll make you see the future, with yourself in it, making, creating, rolling things into place, parts that are too big to lift, too much of a burden, but need to be dealt with. It will feel like fear at first, but you can taste possibility. This is what I was looking for but didn’t know it. A way that could restore my heart to plumb and level my mind to possibility.

    Before I knew it, I had bought and paid for a load of hug rocks to be delivered to my house. This was more than a splurge purchase or rampant materialism. I knew it in my heart and sometimes it just takes somebody else to see that unnamed thing and roll you forward a bit more.

    I remembered that she said not to even try to pick the big boulders up, they would be too heavy, just roll them, flip them on their sides. So I rolled each one into a circular position around a hole that I dug. Boulder by boulder then stone by stone, piece by piece, I built a fire pit that would be my altar, a place of burnt offerings, to make sacrifice the history recorded and lost on paper. I hand selected each of the smaller stones and marveled at its individuality, it’s uniqueness as I picked them up from their pile. As I nestled the smallest stones, I took time to notice the flecks of color, the striations of line, and found a small resting place for each in my design. I wondered if anyone else would ever notice the care and concern I took with each.

    Very few could understand the stillness with which I held one of the stones in my hand just as few will know the value of each of the words I placed on thousands of pages. The lady who sold me the stone knew. She was the type that knew that a rock won’t move until it’s good and ready. When I held her eyes in mine, I imagined her feet running all the way down into the plates far below our Earth’s surface. She intoned the smallest possibilities from a grain of sand, that it is to say, that I believe she knew it is the sand that moves mountains.

    Lacking in skiIl, with whinnying confidence, these rocks belonged somewhere but not my backyard. A river, an avalanche did not bring them here by a natural course of events beyond my control. A large dump truck with a person driving it did. I must cull them into a design, some form, or their forced extraction for my whim should be wasteful. The intricate, delicate beauty was embarrassing as was their unique extravagance. Bouncing the smaller stones in my hand, with every turn, I found the stones to be small treasures, each a gift that I didn't make and couldn't destroy, only express gratitude for the chance to do a new thing with them. How does this happen to a rock? Such a beautiful thing from the word “go”. These rocks will survive even me.

    The fire and its magic have always called to me. The fire’s offering is release, my offering is only to give. But I was tired of giving but felt I had nothing left to loose. I wanted to hold on a bit more, a little longer. “Please take from me slowly”. I wanted a slow burn of the past, not an engulfing raging flame, to make time stand still at the stone altar.

    Entranced, I lighted a match to begin the fade. Years of recorded history would burn at my feet. The beautiful fire licked the air as the smoke curled into intricate textures backlight by the sun lowing in the sky. Each word faded into gray ash. The ashes stewed in the pit and collapsed onto one another in a heap. The scent of burning oak and honeysuckle’s heady fragrance lifted in the air and danced. I had not noticed the honeysuckle's second blooming along the fence rail until now. The caw of the crow reached down to me from his perch in the tall pine. “Yes, this; and yes, go; then more of this; yes” while the sparrow played to the crowd. Each of my past moments existed, each with jostling possibilities in the bushes, but not even I can remember all the stones left turned or unturned.
    Now, written history has failed and forgetfulness offers a a wink at grace, just when you think forgiveness seems impossible.
    Still I demanded “Where is the Justice?”, stomping the last stone into its new home. My eyes stung with smoke, involuntary tears revolted and streamed down my face, but there was no answer from below or above. Questioning justice is not a question for this world.

    “It’s over now” is all I heard.
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