We gather pebbles. I don’t know why – it’s what we do. Every morning, we dress in our prettiest clothes and head down to the shore. We trail along, picking up whatever pebbles catch our eye – the colour, the shape, the pattern – each of them has something unique. We gather them in baskets. At noon we sit and watch the sea. It’s different every day. Sometimes we play games, tossing pebbles into a circle we’ve drawn in the sand, or maybe playing jacks with a handful of them. We talk, lazily, wondering if today will be the day we find the right one. We eat our lunch – bread, cheese, an apple – and drink clear water. In the afternoon we gather yet more stones, or examine the ones we’ve already chosen.
Then we carry them home to mother. She will have made soup, or a thick stew, and there will be freshly made bread. We eat and talk. Maybe one of us will sing. We patch any holes in our baskets. And while we do this, mother looks at the stones we have brought, turning each of them in her hand, muttering under her breath, and finally discarding them.
We will go back down to the shore again tomorrow. We will keep searching, even though no-one can tell us what we’re looking for.
For Jane Dougherty‘s latest microfiction challenge. The glorious image is by Frederick Leighton.