The Pebble

A little girl picked along a stream weaving through the cedars and pine near her mountain home.

She looked left and right, under her feet, across the water and all around, picking up a shiny stone here and there, placing each one in her apron pocket.

After awhile her apron grew heavy and her stomach grumbled, so she left the stream and walked home, leaning on the quiet trees she passed along the way.

Her father was just arriving with two buckets of water on a plank settled across his shoulders. He saw her waddling towards him and laughed into the sun.

She heaved her swollen apron onto the great stump father used to split wood, spilling out the jumble of stones in an oracle’s dice throw.

“Mama mountain laid eggs!”

He reached into the pouch at his waist and held out his hand, wide as the stump, showing her a single dark red rock.

“And what will this hatch, daughter?”

She wrinkled her tiny face in thought, while the hatchet in his other hand swung in a blur over the stone, casting a flock of hissing sparks into the fire pit at his feet.

Her eyes grew wide and she smiled.

“A Phoenix!”

Soon steam began to rise from the pot hung over the fire pit. He scooped some out into a clay bowl and handed it to her. The warmth spread into her little hands, and behind his beard, the father smiled.