I originally thought the stories I had started writing nearly five years ago were finished after the eighth installment. I spent the next two years attempting to go back and edit these stories, sometimes just the aesthetics of the stories, other times I would try and adapt them into different formats, and more than once I even tried starting over from scratch, but none of these methods turned up fruitful. I had toyed with the idea of just letting them be, and moving on to an almost 'sequel' of sorts that would pick up where the first set of stories had left off. Early last month I actually spent a week to cleaning up my first round of stories, and made them fit together a little more cleanly, and in doing this, I started to see the whole picture of what I wanted to accomplish with all of this. My eight short stories (which has now become nine) is collectively Part One: "Consequences" of a soon to be three part tale called, "The Worry Stone."
I also felt that since these stories have become the spine of everything I have spent my creative talent (if you want to call it that) on, I figured it would be nice to show everyone exactly where the origin of these stories come from. The majority of characters in the first part of "The Worry Stone" are actually made up of real life friends and very loosely based around real life situations, daydreams and scenarios I have lived through in the last ten years of my life (or seen friends live through). Parts two and three will be primarily fiction that results from the events of Part One.
The idea of how one decision, one choice or one idea can unfold and change everything for everyone (also known as the butterfly effect) has been one of the most inspiring notions to drive me to write a story at all. I often refer to a moment in my life that was so amazingly small and insignificant, that has had lead to an epic alteration in where my life has led me. Everything from my friends and taste in music to me moving around the country and ending up here in Minneapolis. It fascinates me to see how minuscule this choice seemed at the time, and how grand it ended up being for me. Even more so I feel blessed to be able to have traced my life back to this moment (not ignoring the fact that previous to this said moment, there was some other unnoticed event causing all of this to unfold, and more moments before that one.)
For me this is the beginning, and I felt it would be a great prologue to my story. Everything stems from something. So here we go, for the first time I am putting this story into words (and therefore is a first rough draft). This story (with the exception of names and appearances changed to fit current storyline) is a true story which stems a tale of fiction and fact that when completed, will be "The Worry Stone."
"The Worry Stone" - A Prologue
I hate gift shopping. It is my least favorite part of site seeing. I never know what to get anyone. I guess maybe I put too much thought into it. My grandma collects silver spoons, she is easy to shop for. Grandpa? Well he likes magnets. My brother could care less if I brought him back something from my field trip, it is my mom that is the hard one to shop for. She drinks a lot of coffee, but I already have gotten her a dozen mugs, even if she did dishes twice a month she would always have a fresh mug in the morning. Postcards are a silly gift to bring back, especially if you are visiting in-state. I could have gotten her a teddy bear, but I am sure it would have ended up in the toy chest in my closet that still holds the bears and rabbits and dogs of my childhood. No, I wanted it to be something she can keep out, something she would find useful, or at the very least a cute sentiment.
I should have asked her this morning what it was that she wanted me to get for her. I am sure she would have said something like 'You don't need to get me anything, I just want you to come home safe.' She worried about me a lot. Not because I was known for getting into trouble, just she cared for me and was never at ease when I went more than an hour away from her.
That is it, that is what I could get her, I could get her a worry stone. There are stones of every color, this was a perfect idea. With a brand new green worry stone, a collectable spoon and a magnet with a picture of the Old Man on the Mountain on it, I made my way over to the cashier.
I was only given $10 from my grandma to spend on stuff at the gift shop, but fortunately I had brought the $5 I had left over from a recent yard sale. It was a good thing I brought bagged lunch.
Now that I took care of that, I supposed it was time to catch up with my group and take the tram up the mountain. It was not until I searched the entire cabin that I realized my chaperone and group had already entered the tram and I was forced to wait for the next one.
Behind me in line, and soon to be my tram-mates, was a group of girls and an older woman I assumed was the mother of one of the girls. I remembered one of the girls right away, Jessica went to elementary school with me and was in my class last year. The other girls came from another school and I had only seen them in the halls a few times this year.
One of the girls, of which I could not place the name of, was in the middle of her friends with her hands in front of her face. She was crying. I saw her face for the first time when she lowered her hands to plead with her friends. She was beautiful. She had straight blonde hair that fell past her shoulders, and even through the tears, I could see two bright blue circles in her eyes. How had I never seen her before?
"I can't do it, it is too high, I'll wait down here for you guys, please, just go without me."
She kept glancing up at the path of the tram that was carrying my group up the side of the mountain, and then back down to the faces of her friends, desperately hoping that they would agree and leave her be.
"Don't be silly Rose, the tram is as safe as can be. It does this everyday, it is perfectly safe!"
Her friends were not giving her any slack, and the chaperone was staying out of it.
"No really, just leave me down here, I'll be fine, I can eat my lunch and do homework, just come get me on your way back."
I had never talked to a girl I did not know, in fact I barely talked to girls I did know. This girl just seemed so scared, and she did not want to hear half-hearted promises from her friends, she wanted something else, she needed to hear from an unbiased person. I do not even remember stepping up to them, or even thinking what I was going to say until I said it, but there I was, with my hand out talking directly to the girl with the blue eyes.
At first she looked shocked, wondering where I came from. In her attempt at persuading her friends to leave her behind, she did not even notice the quiet boy standing in front of them, not that many people noticed me in the first place.
Her gaze broke from mine, and turned to what I was holding in my hand. It was the worry stone i had just purchased for my mom.
"What, what is that?"
She had stopped crying now, and was staring at the stone with sincere curiousity.
"It is a worry stone. You place it in your hand like this." I put it in my right hand, thumb in the groove and started massaging it. "And rub it right here. It is meant to help keep your mind occupied with something else so you won't worry."
She hesitated, looked at her friends as if they were going to give her some sort of sign of approval, they did not. They were just as taken aback as her. After a moment's time she reached out and grabbed the stone from me.
Now she was looking up at me, nearly dried tear stains, with the most beautiful smile I had ever seen, on her face.
I started to turn to leave her with her friends.
"My name is Rose."
Rose, what a gorgeous name.
"I'm Max. The tram is here, are you ready?"
On cue the tram landed behind me and the door opened. Once again Rose looked around for a sign of approval, this time she got it in a form of held back giggles from her lot of friends surrounding her.
"Yes Max, I am."
I turned and entered the tram and left her with her friends. They followed suit a few seconds after and in less than a minute the tram was filled with another group of field trippers. The more people that entered the tram, the further I seemed to get from Rose. I wanted to work my way through the crowd to get to her, but I did not want to hover over her, instead I felt safe on the opposite end of the tram, far enough away that I could not say anything stupid.
A few minutes later we were at the top of the mountain, and I held back a bit to let the others out before me. Rose worked her way through the crowd and caught up to me before I could make it out of tram and get back with my group.
"Here you go, thank you. That was very sweet of you."
Her hand was extended with the worry stone pressed between her fingers.
"You keep it, there is always the trip back down. I don't need it anyways, it wasn't for me."
She smiled but did not bring her hand back to her side.
"Thank you. At least take this then."
She grabbed a small note from behind the worry stone that she was holding on to and handed it directly to me.
"I know we have a few days left of school, but I don't want to take the chance of missing you. Call me sometime this summer."
I took the note from her and she turned and ran back to her friends, all of which where giggling and whispering to her as she approached. I turned back to my friends and looked down at the note in hand. It said, 'Rose Sall, 603-555-1951.' I could not hold back a wide grin on my face when I saw the 'o' was in fact a heart. I walked back to my group, none of which were looking my way and noticed what just happened. I liked it that way, so I folded up the note from Rose and put in in my pocket where the worry stone had once been.
This story changed my life in a very different way than it did Max's. It in turn made me decide to stay at a school I had previously hated. Instead of moving away with my mom, I stayed with my grandparents a little longer and moved with them to a new part of town. A part of town that built new friendships, friendships that lasted through high school, and led to other friendships that last to this day. If not for that worry stone I would not have met nearly any of all of the wonderful people I have come to meet in my journeys (would I have met others just as fantastic? I'll never know). A small decision, like what to get my mom at a gift shop, has altered my life, for better or worse, forever. It is this very idea, simple in context, but infinitely complex in reality, that I find to be the most interesting of concepts. So although in the following stories you may think that the coincidence of the characters to be just too much, or perhaps unrealistic, try not to think of it as all of these people who happen to have been in the wrong place (or perhaps right place?) at the wrong time, but instead that these are just some of many (in time, of everybody) who is affected by an event that they themselves had no control over. Hopefully it will beg of you the same question that has nagged me for years... Are there really any events that we do have control over?