The Boy and The Pebble

Imagine the joy when a young boy finds the perfect pebble by his local pond. It’s flat and aerodynamic, and the shape promises a smooth skip across the slick surface of the water. The boy has sifted past a hundred other rocks. Perhaps a thousand. And finally–– finally, he has found one with just the right angles and leading edges. It’s a rock that shouldn’t exist. Not here anyways. It is a natural perfection that must’ve lost its way and wound up in this boy’s world. Imagine the whoop, the excited disbelief, and the hesitation to throw. It’s a shame to throw away such a rock, and it’s also a big responsibility. A skipping stone such as this will come into a boy's hands once, or maybe twice, ever. He knows this, and he is desperate not to blow his chance. A brief horror crosses the boy’s face as he considers the possibility of a plunk, a misfire, or a two-skip dud. He considers not throwing it at all; he contemplates keeping the rock. If he throws it, the perfect rock will never be seen again; it will slip away forever into the brown pond with the summer ‘skeeters guarding its watery coffin. He thinks about placing it on his bookshelf alongside his other trophies and collectables. It certainly deserves such an honor. But taking it home just seems wrong. It was obviously purposed for one thing, and it would never do that thing if it sat on his shelf. Collecting dust on this particular rock would just as stupid as putting a favorite penny in the bank. The boy must throw it today, or he never will. The day seems to agree and welcomes the coming pitch––the air is still, and the birds are quiet. The boy shuffles his bare feet to the edge of the pond, where the water and ground seem to blend. He spreads his toes and lines his feet up like his coach taught him at baseball practice. The boy aims carefully, his small brow furrowed in concentration. He cocks back one arm, the other reaching out for aim and balance. In his drawn hand, one finger is curled around the stone, and the rest pressed against a sweaty palm. Now or never. The boy breathes sharply, his heart is thumping through his chest. Now. He swings his arm forward in a lightning bow movement, and flicks hard at the end. The perfect rock leaves his possession, and the boy smiles as he watches it fly.

A Note on Endings:

I'm rather obsessed with this idea, and I can't bring myself to end it, because the ending is somewhat of a Schrödinger's cat. If I uncover the ending, it forces that ending into existence, and the other possibility dies. At this moment in the story, for better or worse, the boy’s part is over. Only one thing is certain––the pond will reclaim its stone. The pond will recoup its lost rock like one of Grimm's babbling brooks reclaiming its stolen nymphs or goddesses from wayward knights. And that boy, heavy with euphoria or despair, will go home. He will either plod or trot up to his lawn. His day will be changed because of a single stone and the number of ripples that it leaves behind.

Hm, I'm beginning to sympathize with the late Ray Bradbury on his habit of abruptly ending short stories.

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