Gravel dots her fingertips, her knees, the edges of her yellow dress. She runs along the parked RV, the sun hanging low above its roof. She bends and picks up a pebble; it stretches along the small of her hands. Her arm cocks back as she eyes me, smiles.
“Be careful,” I tell her, in that double-edged tone, same one my mother used all those years, when I walked barefoot through the kitchen next to her piles of dirt and dust and bits of thyme. When I grew up deciding to ignore her, unbuckling my seatbelt as soon as our red brick house vanished from the rear view, driving far enough until I couldn't hear her sound. Until there were too many of us squeezed on loveseats, stereo speakers shaking tables, cigarette ashes collecting on the rims of cans. Careful, no one told us, and then, that night, when she drove me home from my first visit to the doctor, silence slick with tears, wipers clearing the raindrops before they fell again, back and forth and back and forth over all the things we didn’t say: I told you to be careful or this is just what I was afraid of or what are we supposed to do now.
My daughter throws the rock, it clacks onto the ground, sends a small stack of dust into the sky. She looks at me, waits. She picks up another.
'Rocks' was first published in River Teeth’s Beautiful Things on July 8th 2019.
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