Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | January 28, 2009

Stone Egg

Hancock, New Hampshire. October 27, 2003.

10-27-03-boathouse-emptied-3

Stacked together, it could almost be a pile of treasure. Precious tapestries and barrels of gold. I close my eyes, and see a dragon brooding over its loot, flaming eyes open, red tail flicking.

A twig snaps and I am alert, still and tense. I can feel fire gathering in my lungs. I am the dragon, I tell myself. This is my lair.

In truth, none of this is mine. It is stolen from the sea. From every ill-fortuned ship that bashes up against the rocks of the channel and spills its guts to float with the currents, coming to rest here. In dragon’s territory.

I too was stolen. Snatched like an egg from the nest of the sea. Just when I felt the warm arms of death enclose me, just when I was ready to leave the world and all its greed and evil behind, I was lifted away. Shivering and starving and mostly drowned.

My rescuer never showed his face. Or her face. I guess I don’t know even if it was human. All I know is one second I was dead; the next I was lying on a blue tarp, my entire body throbbing, in more agony than I’d ever experienced in my fifteen years of life.

Someone brought me water. Someone wrapped the tarp around me when it rained, and rigged it as a shield against the harsh midday sun. Eventually, I was well enough to fetch my own water and set traps for fish and crabs. The someone never returned.

I dream of flying. Every night when I close my eyes, the ground rocks beneath me, shivering and swaying until I am repelled up and up, rising effortlessly about the land, spreading my wide red wings.

But all I see is the sea. My small patch of forest is swallowed up in blue, and I realize I will never know what is beyond the cliffs bordering my territory to the north, or what is across the great river gushing into the sea. The dragon in my dream does not know, so neither will I.

I guard my treasure with the instinct and mad greed of any trapped creature. Here is my rope, in case I’m ever brave enough to scale the cliffs. Here is my aluminum boat with two broken motors, in case I figure out how to fix them and set out to sea. There is my bed-frame that might make a good raft to float myself and a few possessions across the river.

At the bottom of the barrel, hidden by layers of shells, old bottles, and all the nails and screws I’ve collected, is the only possession I did not steal.

It was with me when I was stolen. A single egg-shaped stone of such a dark red color it is almost black. If I hold it up close, letting my breath fog its smooth surface, I can almost see a flare inside. A flare of dragon’s breath. One day, I am sure the stone will hatch. It is madness, I know. But when I hold it the dragon inside me rears its head and howls with such ferocity that I feel my eyes shading to black and my shoulders itch where my wings should be.

I only allow myself one hour every day to hold the stone. More, and I would lose myself in its dark depths. I would not fish or stoke my fire or gather water. I would not gather the broken pieces of other’s dreams that the sea spits out.

Now, today’s hour has come. I reach into the barrel, removing things one by one, and lining them up on the tarp. Finally, only the stone is left.

“I will not hurt you,” I speak, and the words feel strange on my mostly silent tongue. My voice is deeper than it once was, my hands stronger and wider. The stone fits perfectly in my palm.

I let my breath frost its surface, and the flare inside glares out, stronger and brighter than ever before.

The stone-egg begins to shake.

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Responses

  1. Cool! I really like where you are going with this one!


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