With trepidation; I approached my childhood Appalachian home, a shack really, high above the railroad tracks. The sole remaining object was the toilet, standing forlorn among the broken shards of rotten wood. A toilet, ironically, that we were never allowed to use, when there was a perfectly good leaf available in the speckled wood, and a mocking bird as a lookout.
Walking over the broken foundation; I found my brother’s rock collection, tossed in with some marbles of unknown origin. He would no longer need them, having vaulted over the pearly gates at age 17.
I placed them in my pocket, planning to skip and toss them across the creek that flowed in the holler, abundant with muscadines and wild blackberry bushes.
Some would say that my brother never had a chance — struck down from the day he transformed from ethereal space to join the dysfunctional menagerie of misfits, as a screaming infant. With twinkling brown eyes, and a saucy smile; he would stack up rocks in a mud pile, transforming them into a fort to fight the Injuns, or a cave to hide from the ogres, or a sailing ship ready to drop anchor at an exotic port. He imagined a life of fantasy, a Lost Boys jungle.
He grew up in a place where rock, paper, scissors wasn’t just a child’s game, but a reality in which the boulder of life’s inequities crushed the fragile seed before it could grow. Where a paper said that while you recovered from Rocky Mountain Spotted Tick Fever; you were brain damaged and could no longer attend classes with your friends. Where scissors cut strings to the academic scholarships that were within your grasp before you got sick, slicing dreams into shreds.
Rebellion overpowered him, causing disillusionment with the pebbles in his pocket. He stowed the reminder of his childhood in a pouch, and walked into a world of secrets, never to return.
As each pebble was skipped into the creek; I prayed his soul was now anchored firmly with the Rock of Ages; his name carved forever into the stars.
Becky Parker resides in TN with her husband. She loves glamping, DIY projects and listening to a tall tale. She has been published in Spirit Fire Review, Agape Review, and The Potato Soup Journal. She has an upcoming mystery feature in Yelllow Mama.