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Stones Cry by Cheryl Smart | Word Riot
Creative Nonfiction

February 15, 2015      

Stones Cry by Cheryl Smart

Listen to a reading of “Stones Cry” by Cheryl Smart.

We’re leaving the cottage. While it’s shivering and frozen. I know it’s wrong but if we stay till spring, I’ll see the wildflowers reborn and we may never go. I think of a new family here, bringing life. I pack away the decades. The unmistakable sound of my children’s school bus pulls me from my work, pushes me past tall pines, the pines that once sheltered us away. I walk the gravel drive, phantom steps move me to the rolling hum. Rounding the last corner, I anticipate the sight of my daughter’s tiny legs working hard to navigate those deep metal steps, her big brother already several strides ahead. Closer, the wail of the bus closes in around me, stirring up a roving, visceral ache for my children.
      I will the bus to stop and open the doors to what is real to me. Give me my babies. Send them pattering down the drive. I promise to listen to every word and be there, really be there, when they tell me to guess what happened at school that day.
      I It’s a bitter yellow streak that rolls past our cottage. The bus never even considers me. It flies by — a bright, gigantic rolling advertisement that my children are done being children. We’re not done though. She’s maybe nine and he’s eleven. At most, he’s sixteen and she’s fourteen. He’s just started driving himself and his sister to school. That’s why the bus didn’t stop. But, even then, it always slowed to be sure. Every day for nearly a year, the bus slowed at the end of our drive because maybe the youngest rode the bus home that day to visit with her friends. Or maybe car trouble caused them both to take the bus. Just to be sure, the bus slowed. It slowed until it didn’t anymore, and it never did again. We’re not done, but yellow and black says we’re done, and I can only hurl rocks and curse. Rocks are important when you need to throw something. I’m glad we never paved the drive.
      I There is an old man on the front porch of the cottage, standing where my husband always stands to watch the summer storms blow in. He’s motioning, “Come inside, honey. Come in.”
      I There is soft music playing from the portable radio we left unpacked to drown out the quiet. We’ve barely spoken all day. I can’t make out the song, but the melody is nice.
      I “Dance with me. We should have a last dance here, should we not?”
      I It’s that ancestral dance we dance, with toddlers on our toes, then with children, their chins at our waist. Before the song is over, the tops of their heads touch our shoulders.
      I We circle around and around, the old man and me. Warbling and scratched, we are a worn-out record that’s been loved too much, and not delicately.
      I We build a fire in the wood stove and listen to sleet peck at the roof. The rattle of youth bursting in and out bleeds through walls, mocking more than it comforts. These walls have soaked up our years, but tonight, we are here again a young family — a father, a mother, and our ghost children.
      I By morning, freezing rain and sleet turn the woods into a secret garden of icicles and frost. I take my last pictures, thankful there is such beauty to photograph. When I’ve captured enough memories, I let myself grieve. I don’t want the house to hold on to my mourning. I sink to my knees beside sleeping flowers, onto an icy path of stones laid by my own hands years before. I shake the stones beneath me, and they hold me, cry with me. We water the wildflowers to come, they will be beautiful in the way those things holding a hard sorrow are beautiful.

c7a (2)About the author:

Cheryl Smart is a 2nd year MFA candidate at the University of Memphis, studying Creative Nonfiction and Poetry. She is current Nonfiction Editor of U of M’s literary journal, The Pinch. During her undergrad college career, Cheryl divided her studies between Philosophy and Poetry. She has publications appearing or forthcoming in The Little Patuxent Review, Appalachian Heritage, Cleaver Magazine, Crack the Spine – Now, Word Riot – and others. Cheryl was a hip hop aerobics instructor in an alternate life, and is now retired from that bit of craziness (although she misses it).​

    4 comments to Stones Cry by Cheryl Smart

    • Denise & Chris

      Great style Cheryl!! Loved hearing your voice. Loved your story. You are awesome. love & hugs, Denise & Chris

    • Melinda Russell

      Simply wonderful…got the strangest feeling of deja vu…so warm and comforting, yet alarming at the same time.

    • Margaret Bruch

      Very moving (no pun intended). Keep it up…..I want more!!!

    • Cheryl Smart

      Thank you all not only for reading and/or listening to my work, but for taking the time to comment. Feedback is so important to writers and is greatly appreciated by those who run the magazines in which our works appear. Thank you!

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