The rock had been at the base of a delicate footbridge over a small stream. It was smooth on one face and rough on the others, not quite oval-shaped, with several shades of grey flowing into each other and pink veining throughout.
At her house the girl put the rock on a shelf with her other treasures: a shell from the sea, a ribbon won at games, a toy horse from the fair, a flower picked months before. Sometimes she played with her treasures and sometimes she kept them neatly displayed. As she grew up some items were traded out for others, but the rock always remained.
The rock on the shelf was just one of many treasures.
The girl, now older, gave the rock to her best friend to be a talisman of their bond. The boy kept the rock most often in the pocket of whatever he was wearing that day. He regularly held the rock, either slowly stroking the smooth face, or worrying at the rougher edges. It was a grounding point for a life in need of one.
The rock in the pocket was quietly itself, allowing the boy to focus on being the same.
The boy gave the rock to a boyfriend, explaining that holding it got him through horrible times and gave him courage, but now he knew he could hold on to their love instead. The boyfriend put the rock in his sock drawer; he didn’t like clutter. But he saw the rock every day and was reminded that simple things could have deep meaning.
The rock in the drawer was a reflection of love and choice.
The boyfriend, with permission, gave the rock to his mother while telling her the story of who he really was. The mother took in the story and the rock, slightly bewildered by both and not quite certain what to do with either, not yet. The rock was placed on an entry table and was bumped around by keys and envelopes, purses and gloves. But when it was knocked to the floor it was always picked back up.
The rock on the table was an everyday item, neither noticed nor forgotten.
The mother passed the rock on to her aunt who was known for collecting small bits of nature. The aunt brought the rock home, and carefully gave it all of her attention. Once she felt she had really seen it she placed it on the small table her husband jokingly called an altar, arranging it so that its roughness reflected the rough of the tree bark next to it, and the pink was accented by the candle she sometimes burned.
The rock on the altar was an echo of the natural world, a new part of an ever-changing pattern.
The aunt explained the altar to her grandson, how she had come by each piece and what they meant to her. She allowed him to pick one thing for himself; he picked the rock. The grandson never had a set place for the rock; sometimes he carried it with him in his backpack, sometimes it was in a place of honor on his night-table, and sometimes it drifted under the bed until he was made to clean and found it again.
The grandson went on a school trip to a formal garden. He sat by the base of a small bridge, trying to look as bored as the cool kids, but secretly delighting in the careful order around him. He dug into the bottom of his backpack, hoping the rock was there today. Finding it, he looked for a place where it would fit, marking this garden with something of his own. He knew his grandmother would approve.
The rock left in the garden was a silent declaration of understanding, and of the artist he wanted to become.
The rock had changed in the time it was away. The roughness was no longer so rough; the smoothness was marked with small scratches. The pink seemed somehow brighter, and one band of dark grey much more distinct. But it still matched and enhanced the bridge as it was now; filling in an imperceptible small space that had been lacking in the time it was away.
The rock, back where it started, remains perfect in its new imperfections.
***This is my take on shibusa for LJ Idol. This week we also are working with partners, the fabulous barrelofrain is writing on intersubjectivity and you can find their piece here; we each created a fable about inanimate things. And have a link to the topic thread so you can read them all!***