Sticks and stones

Imelda did not want to get up. Three of her rock-people friends were going into town. They were always so busy, so willing to lug their great mass through space.

Roland was the biggest and most active, and his boulder chest and head were smooth from knocking against walls and rolling down hills. He liked to swim, letting the waves crash him into the shore. She suspected he liked the polished finish the sand made on his back.

“Come on!” they called. “We’re going to roll over some villagers!”

“Ugh.” she replied. She was lying on her side, enjoying the springy texture of the bed of moss under her face. “I can’t be bothered. Go on without me.”

“You know what they say,” Roland chided her, “about the rolling stone…”

“It won’t shut up?”

“No, it gathers no—”

“I know, I know,” she interrupted. “I like moss. It’s soft, and I like the color.”

“Oh, gross!” Morgula said. “I mean, imagine if it grew on you! Like, it put its roots into you, and it would be hanging off you! Like in that story about the rock girl who went to India and came back and there was strange ivy growing on her face!”

“That’s an urban myth,” Roland said, hefting his weight from one stony pediment to the other. “Let’s get going, I feel seismic!”

“You guys go ahead,” Imelda said. “Maybe I’ll catch up later.”

When they’d left, Sistela came out from behind a tree.

“I thought they’d never go,” she said in her melodious voice.

“Why didn’t you say hello?” asked Imelda.

“Roland’s always trying to get me to buffet his back with my hair.”

Sistela’s hair was made of water. It was a constant flowing river, whose pressure increased when she brushed it. The villagers loved her. They built little shrines to her all over the forest, depicting her stick arms and feathered face.

“I’m surprised he’d sit still long enough. That guy sure likes action,” Imelda mused as she stroked the grassy ground next to her great stony head.

“There’s one thing that keeps him in place, I’ve noticed.” Sistela’s soothing voice made even a teasing tone pleasant. “He seems awfully taken by this spot in the woods.” She raised a blue feather of an eyebrow, “and I don’t think it’s the rotting tree over there that attracts him.”

“What would Roland want with me? I never want to go anywhere.”

“Precisely,” said Sistela. “You slow him down. He likes the way you see things. The way you notice the cool of the morning, and the sound of the lizards across the pebbles.”

“He told you that?”

“He quoted you, he couldn’t stop talking about you.”

“Hmm,” Imelda said. “I don’t think he’d like my new hobby.”

“How’s it coming?” Sistela peered down close to Imelda’s head.

Imelda lifted her face from the ground to show a patch of moss growing up her cheek.

“Pour a little more water here will you? I think it’s drying out.”

“How long do you think you can hide that garden? Don’t you think folks will notice?”

“They’re so busy running around. By the time they see what’s happened, it will be fully grown.”

Sistela looked at her friend’s reclining form. The growth was taking advantage of her shade, creeping up from under her rough stone thigh and along the side where she lay. It would not be long before she was covered in a living tattoo.


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Prompted by Vicente L Ruiz’s weekly writing prompt


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