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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1. Secret Discovery

           Tommy saw it flashing like a beacon in the sunlight commanding him to come closer. Something small, a little further along the path. The other two boys walking with him did not interest the nameless thing. It wanted him and him alone. It called his name clearly, “Tommy…Tommy…TOMMY!!”
             He broke into a run as the thing began to wail, turning his normally obligatory “mmy’s” into long pregnant screeches brimming with eagerness. He pushed his feet faster and faster, ignoring the gasps that sounded behind him. He knew he would beat them, their padding footsteps lackadaisical in comparison to the swift, staccatoed cadence of his yearning soles. They pushed him along, he had to get there first - first and only.
             The wailing reached a reverberating, desperate pitch as he approached, pushing his screaming legs faster. Tommy could barely make out the flashing blue, pushing his mop of brownish-blonde hair from his forehead to better glimpse it as he pressed his protesting legs onward.
           He grasped for it quickly and blindly. It belonged to him and him alone. None of the others could ever see. When he opened his hand, amidst the sand that had joined the prize in his fervor, shined a dark blue stone.
         Not round, but rather smushed looking, as if a large marble had been pressed to about half its height, perfectly symmetrical and perfectly smooth. He shook his hand lightly allowing it to dance and whirl its color spectacularly, winking at him. It had no flaws, notches, seams, or bumps that a manmade object would have and Tommy decided that it must be a real gemstone. It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
 It glinted like the river that paralleled their journey, specs of white and cream that danced and sparkled in the sunlight, ever varying and swirling in its infinite, sapphire depths. Lying in the Florida sun made the stone warm, almost scalding hot. He stroked the unflawed surface with a single finger and a wave of dizzying nausea overtook him.
 He glanced at his finger with raised brows, momentarily entranced by the buzzing numbness at its tip. As the spell ended he realized that the stone had become cold to the touch.
 The pounding of footsteps and prepubescent squeals brought him back to reality and he hastily pocketed the gem. His beige cargo shorts sagged beneath the weight and it banged against his thigh as he turned.
“What is it Tommy? Is it a dollar?” Calvin asked, his hazel eyes bright with anticipation. Tommy had found a crumpled fiver on the ground once and had given it to him. He always expected something from him now. They all did.
 Even Jacob, his best friend since preschool, wanted the stone. Tommy could feel it. But he would never have it. No one would.
Their eyes bored into him, waiting. Expecting him to share his tremendous fortune.
“Nothing,” Tommy said, kicking the dirt beneath his feet with the worn sole of his Nike sneakers and pulling his face into a pout. “I thought it was a ring or something, but it was just a damn rock.” The southern Florida boys hardly swore at this particular juncture in their lives, and this spectacular bit of swearing encapsulated the moment as the other boys took up the gauntlet.
“Damn,” Jacob echoed sympathetically with a sly smile.
“Shit,” Calvin said, brows furrowed as he glared into the dirt, most likely dreaming of the dollar that he could have called his very own.
 Perfect. Almost as perfect as his treasure.
The boys began to shuffle again, heading toward their original destination at a subdued pace. Tommy stuck his hand in his pocket, grasping for the stone like a lifeline, a delirious grin appearing on his face when his small fingers closed around the chilled surface.
He used his free hand to wipe the sweat that had accumulated on his brow from his mad dash, and then hitched up his dropping pants. The stone weighed his britches down past his knees. He fidgeted with the hem of his ratty t-shirt as he walked; making sure that it covered the border of his jeans.
 The other boys discussed who would be first when they reached the Laundromat at the end of the river walk, past the storage centers and warehouses that lined the shore side. He peered at them beneath suspicious lids, trying to determine if they noticed him behaving oddly, but they argued between themselves and noticed nothing.
 Tommy smiled to himself, ignoring the “You went first last times” and “I barely played yesterdays”, his hand firmly wrapped around the stone. He had no inclination to enter their debate and found that he didn’t care in the slightest what place he would take in the rotation at the lone arcade game in the Laundromat.
 In fact, when his friends finally pressed him into taking a turn at the game he had difficulty opening his hand from around his prize to do so.

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