The Wayward Pebble

A young boy finds a captivating blue stone while walking with his friends. This discovery changes life as he knows it and begins to control the world around him. As Tommy grows, he carries the stone and the secret with him. When the burden becomes too great he reaches out to the only one that might understand, a childhood friend that fell victim to the wrath of the stone. Though she believes she is responsible for the death of her parents, it was something far more sinister. Tommy struggles with his own sanity as he tries to convince her, all the while battling the mysterious, malevolent, wayward pebble.

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2. Dangerous Obsession

 "Tommy!” His mother screeched from the screen door of the trailer. “Tommy Clint Parker!”
Tommy peered around the corner of the trailer, only then realizing that night had fallen. That the street lights had come on, had been on for a while, but absorbed in the stone he hadn’t noticed. Darkness pressed in around him as he stroked the stone once more before pocketing it again.
  “Thomas Clint Parker! Get your ass in here right damn now!!” She caterwauled, and Tommy reluctantly stood, wiping the trailer dust from the seat of his shorts and pulling them up as he scooted toward the door.
“Sorry, Momma. I didn’t hear you.” He said quietly as he approached the screen door, waiting on the broken bottom wooden step that Clint Sr. had erected many years before his birth.
She narrowed her eyes at him. “Didn’t hear me, mah ass! Where the hell you been at boy?” She lifted an over plucked, bleached eyebrow at him, her fingers pulling absently at her worn house coat.
Tommy fidgeted, looking at his shoes. “Playing.”
She harrumphed him, pushing the screen door open near the hinges to allow him entry. She stalked away in her house slippers, mumbling to herself.
 His brother Clint sat on the couch talking with his girlfriend on the phone.
“What are you doing, cocksucker? Playing some pocket pool?” he asked, gesturing crudely to himself. Tommy glared at him for only a moment before realizing what he meant.
 His face heated as he reluctantly removed his hand from his pocket, and made a rude gesture that Mrs. Parker would not have approved.
As he walked to his room, he unsuccessfully tried to recall when he put his hand back into his pocket. Thinking nothing of it, he went inside his room, taking care to step over the rotting hole in the floor that split the entryway, and sat cross-legged on his bed.
He pulled the bed sheet that covered his window firmly in place, and turned the door handle as silently as possible before sliding it home and flicking the lock.
 After reassuring himself no one would intrude on him, he pulled his prize from his pocket. He sighed as the heat from his fingers seeped into it. His fear dissipated instantly, as did thoughts of everything else. He rotated his little pebble in the dim buzzing light above and became lost in its infinite depths.
 
***
“Parker!” An abrupt reprimand brought him crashing out of his daydream. The entire class faced at him, wearing smug grins. He toed the linoleum nervously, eliciting an awkward squeal.
Tommy cleared his throat and removed his hand from his pocket, taking care to make as little movement as possible. He had become very good at that.
 “Yes, Mrs. Finnstein?” He answered the small, vulture-like woman whose irate gaze pinpointed him beneath her gold lined spectacles. 
“No, Mr. Parker, ‘Yes, Mrs. Finnstein’ is not the capital city of our good state,” she answered, head bobbing back and forth with each word.
 “Can we help Mr. Parker, class?” She addressed the curious masses with a smug grin. The class reluctantly turned toward the front to answer.
“Tallahassee.” they replied in near synchronization, only some chiming in after the first syllable
 An easy question, one that Tommy would have answered without hesitation only days before. It occupied his mind in all hours. He couldn’t help thinking about it, couldn’t help running his thumb over the smooth cool surface of the stone and feeling the chill at his fingertips.
“I’ll expect better performance in the future, Thomas.”  Mrs. Finnstein scolded, “You have been inexcusably inattentive this entire week. It’s like you aren’t listening to me at all!” She proclaimed and quite accurately at that. Tommy nodded, his mind already back on the stone stuffed carefully in his pocket.
He had long since decided that it is a gemstone, an opal perhaps. Maybe something else all together. Something that hadn’t yet been discovered.
It never would, he promised himself. He pictured scientists trying to run experiments on it, maybe even trying to slice into it somehow and it made his blood run cold. If he ever told anyone about the stone, Tommy knew, they would take it from him. They would take it away and he would never see it again. That’s why he would never tell. Ever.
 
***
After returning home, he noticed the letter on the counter straightaway. Fear gripped his stomach making it turn over and again. He knew the envelope well
 He had seen them when Clint Jr. had misbehaved in school. He knew what happened after the mail man brought one of those. He noticed the jagged edge and realized that it had already been opened. The squeal of his father’s brakes as his truck trundled over the gravel interrupted his frantic planning.
His hand sought the stone in his pocket and its icy reassurance rewarded him immediately.
 Please!, he thought to the stone, focusing all of his energy on it, Please, I know you’re magic. I know you are! Please, just swallow me up. Take me in and away from here. The stone had yet to show a single iota of magical potential, if it had the capability, it must be shy.
His father walked in with the bang of the screen door. He took the cigarette from his mouth and pointed at him with it between two greasy yellowed fingers. “School sent a letter bout you boy.” His father said through his teeth. He pulled the cigarette back to his mouth and took a long drag, slowly sluicing the smoke over what was left of his stained teeth. “Said you been slipping.”
He leaned over and took his boots off one by one, cigarette pressed between his lips. The glowing embers bobbed to stress each word. “Said you been late. Ain’t been doing your school work. I see you holed up in that room all the time. You better damn well have something to show for it.” He let the boots drop with two separate thunks on the faded carpet. He took two steps toward Tommy and began to undo his large belt buckle. Tommy instinctively backed away from him, shaking his head
“Don’t you back from me boy! You take your licks like a man!” With that Clint backhanded his youngest son twice across the face leaving welts that immediately began to rise. He gasped, eyes tearing as snot began to drip down his face. His father looked down upon him with disgust as he continued removing his belt.
 

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