A Writing Stone

Third Grade

I hold the purple polished stone in my hand and take my seat as soon as the other three get their own stones. They showed them off to our classmates. “Look at how big mine is,” they said. “That means I’m the better writer since it’s so big!” I slid my rock back into the lavender drawstring bag it came ink and hid it in my desk. I wasn’t a good writer. Mine was the smallest of them all, and I didn’t like it at all.  

Fourth Grade

We wrote our fourth letter to our pen pals, and I told her about my stone and how I got it. I hadn’t told anyone at the new school about it. I told her I didn’t like it as much anymore. I wondered what she’d think. The new letters came a few weeks later, and she wrote, saying the rock sounded magical. My pen pal loved how I describe everything to her and that maybe the rock has cool powers. Maybe it did.

Fifth Grade

I lost the lavender bag, but the stone came with me to school every day. We wrote a lot in that class. My teacher said my writing was getting better every time and gave me a small blue notebook. He told me to write any ideas I had down, and maybe one day, I could tell lots of stories. I took the notebook, and set it down in the shelf in my desk, right next to my stone. I loved that little purple stone.

Sixth Grade

I lost my stone, and I was having trouble in my English class. My English teacher asked me what was happening, and I told her about it. She told me that I could do just fine without it. I tried to believe her, but that little stone was so important to me. I looked for it every single day. It left

Seventh Grade

I found a new love for science, but I couldn’t get my words out like I used to. I searched every other day for my little writing stone. Instead, I entered the science fair. I got third place.

Eighth Grade

I used a journal at Sea Camp, writing about our adventures for the three days we were there, learning about the ocean and all that lived in the vast waters. My journal was the one thing that let me gather my thoughts through the days and the place where I wrote my science notes. I still hadn’t found my stone.

Ninth Grade

My journal was my only friend when I started high school. I got caught up in the swim team and made new friends. Every day I improved my swimming, yet I abandoned my search for that little stone.

Tenth Grade

My English teacher told me I should join the creative writing club on campus, but I couldn’t. My schedule was packed, and I never had much time to write, unless it was late at night. Writing was something I never thought I could do again.

Eleventh Grade

I met with an old classmate from third grade. I asked him if he remembered the purple stones we got as a prize when we were little, and he said he did, but lost it a long time ago. He thought it was still on the playground back in elementary school.

Twelfth Grade

I found a small white box in my closet, inside a huge brown box, underneath a stack of old notebooks and board games. The box felt like it contained the answer to the universe, the answer to all my high school problems. I pulled the top off, expecting  stars to explode out, but instead, I find an old science fair pin, a red, white, and blue paper star, a pressed penny, and a small, purple stone. I smiled. It was the best answer I could possibly find.

 

Our Gigantic Universe

 

Do you remember

where we used to play

and when you and me

sprinted through our gigantic universe?

 

You and me, two best friends,

riding through the Wild West

chasing masked villains

into the fiery red sunsets

 

We traveled to space

where no man dared to go

dodging asteroids and

discovering planets

 

Our dragons soared in and

we flew over the mountains

and across the seas in

our fantasy world, just us two.

 

We swam up waterfalls

defeated super villains

battled with our monsters

and chased all the bullies away

 

Do you remember

when the bell rang and released

us out to the dusty playground

and we’d leap into our universe?

 

We dodged rolling kick balls

and tricky trap games with friends,

flew on the swings to outer space and

hid under our favorite tree

 

Where our gigantic universe

bloomed from our imagination

and never vanished

even when the whistles called us in

 

 

 

Treasure Hunting at a Swap Meet

“How much is this?” a young man asks the vendor as he picks up an old picture frame. His wife stands by, holding a painting. People around us chatter, holding plastic bags, suitcases, purses, backpacks and pushing strollers and wagons as they walk around the crowded aisles. Several other tables and tents are set up along the old parking lot, creating a maze of endless treasures.

“Five dollars,” the vendor replies. The two make an exchange, and the customer wanders off happily with his prize as his wife eagerly follows him, disappearing into the crowd. Many other people look around at the vendor’s table. Every inch of it is covered in antique items. I pick up an old war hat, with pins protruding from the sides. My friend asks who would just sell something like that. I set it back down on the table, and we continue on to the next booth, this one covered with multicolored rocks and stones and a few lanterns and shovels.

Another vendor here tells me that there is a lot to find at a swap meet. “Some of them sell things found in stores, others, like me, sell things like this. It’s a way for us to get rid of junk.” He shows my friends and I a collection of stones and rocks his father-in-law owned. He says that there isn’t a story to them, but he makes one up anyways, making us laugh as he says that the biggest rock was found under the bone of the oldest dinosaur. Once he’s done, we continue walking through the maze. The sun beats down on us, but the rays don’t bother us at all. It’s a beautiful day in February. A perfect day for spending the day outside.

Each new table we pass has something different. There’s one covered in movies, another one has children’s books. That one has nothing but toys and video games. Kids stop their parents, and pounce on the toys, happily digging through them to find the perfect one. One little boy walks away happily with a new video game in his hands, and a young girl wields a sword found in the dusty blue bin.

We walk by another longer shaded booth with produce lining the walls, with shoppers holding bags and crates of fruits and vegetables. My friend waits in line to buy a box of mangoes, while I sit and wait, watching the procession of shoppers across the way. Someone is bartering for a great snowboard, still in amazing condition, asking for a lower price, but the vendor doesn’t want to go any lower than twenty dollars.

We pass more tents with countless older items: lanterns, typewriters, paintings from the 1940s, sculptures, phones, huge trunks and chests, bookshelves, a baby blue bike, and a piano. One of the swap meet workers stops to play on a quick ditty on the piano, and he’s smiling the entire time. Everyone claps and cheers when he finishes the song, and he takes a quick bow.

You could pretty much find anything you wanted here. It puts the whole phrase “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” into perspective. It rings true as I purchase a few Disney movies that were discarded in a box, and my friend discovers a table covered in fancy knives and swords. She doesn’t buy any but finds a comic book at the next table over. We both walk away, grinning with our treasures.

It doesn’t take too long to reach the last table of the swap meet. Everyone has seen and bought what they wanted to get. As we leave through the gates, I glance back at the sea of tents and trucks. Maybe next time I come, I’ll discover even more new treasure.