Stones

In early spring, the rain comes in torrents. The stream bordering my field swells and roars and gallops down the hillside, reckless and untamed. From the slope near the stream, you can hear rounded stones knocking together as the water hurtles past. The roar of the water muffles their banging, but the sound is unmistakable.

I have often thought of those stones. They did not begin their journey smooth and round. They began as jagged mountain rocks. As they moved season after season down our valley, their raw corners chipped away, and they became marvelously oval and, sometimes, perfect spheres. They were delightful to heft in the palm of your hand. Most were about the size of a man’s fist, and they were smooth, substantive, and oddly reassuring.

The smaller ones made fearsome weapons in a sling, and in the early days of the resistance, one of the village boys killed a stout Russian with just such a stone. I had no interest in killing Russians or in gathering stones for house foundations or for lining wells. But I loved the sound of their violent journey. I loved that they started their descent as one thing and became another. I tried to imagine them rolling along the bottom of the stream, driven by a relentless force.

They were much like me, caught in an unbridled deluge. Like me, they were becoming something different. Like me, they were more beautiful in their aging than they were in their awakening. And that, I suppose, best describes what happened to me the day I met my husband—the beginning of a chipping away of the ragged edges of my heart.

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