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You toss the stick over the bridge. You and Daddy rush to the other side—he lifts you high. In utter delight, you spy it! It sails magically onward below you, and is gone . . .

This is the lesson learned: that ebb and flow happens, regardless of your will. Currents propel you; or drag you below; or float your stick to the warm womb of ocean, receiving. It’s always been a matter of choice. In the beginning, Daddy let you have the choice of stone, or stick. In the beginning, you chose stones for their smooth, salt-and-pepper bodies; their cool indifference. Or in choosing a stick, you’d pick the showiest, the prickliest, sharp twigs projecting from their spines—not comprehending how they were designed to snag on shadowy sub-surface impediments, never to rise.

But Daddy helped you steer away from stones, guiding you to the one stick that was just right. How perfectly it sailed on its journey to the sea, buoyed by the Unknown like an adventurous bark, seeking new continents.

Then Daddy was gone.

No longer are there strong, warm arms to lift you high enough to see over walls. Suddenly there are many more walls. And somehow you’re back to choosing all the bad sticks—sticks with thorny ends. The meanest. You let them skewer you, just to feel the warmth of your blood welling into your palm. Your cupped palm, like a womb, receiving. But eventually you revert to stones. You fill your pockets with them, and then wander into the ocean, seeking that last perfect stick you shared. The one that remembered how to sail.

Flash Fiction by Kerry Rawlinson

Published in Spring 2017


  1. Crilly O'Neil Crilly O'Neil

    Brilliant …there is so much depth in this tale.

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