My dad was mowing the lawn when he almost took a life. He couldn’t go forward—it was stuck on something, so he turned off the murder weapon and laid it back to see what was underneath. I remember the fresh cut grass smell that wafted from the belly, the green and brown streaks against every inch of the mower and my father. I was on the other side of the mower, looking to see if a stick may have gotten the death trap stuck—it hadn’t. I looked down and saw a green and brown imprint, so I stretched my arm and picked it up, feeling my father’s brown eyes watch me steadily. A green body lay inside, hiding from the dark world that almost vanished from him.
My eyes accused my father of murder, his pleaded innocence, possibly insanity. The belly of the imprint was smooth on my palm, still. My father was preparing his statement for the press when my hand itched. Two eyes and a head popped out, alongside the appearance of four small legs and a tail. My father was no longer accused of murder; instead, he was on trial for attempted murder. My brown eyes saw the green innocence, the turtle was alive and could go on stand. It was from then on that I took the turtle into protective custody. I didn’t want anyone, like my father, to threaten the creature.
“Jasmine, your mother wouldn’t want you to bring that in the house,” Mom wouldn’t mind if she knew I was saving a life. Then again, I remember vaguely when I found a large orange rock, the size of my little, wide-eyed head and I rested a snapping turtle on it. I tried to bring it in the house and keep it in my room as a trophy of my explorative skills, but for some reason, my mother strongly objected.
Little me would collect rocks in my backyard and hide them within the trunk of a tree that reminded me of a giant’s foot. I ran out to the backyard, triangular, hand-size tile in my hand and started hunting. I would brag to my friends of how deep into the woods I would go and find rocks buried beneath the earth’s burdens, using the tile to dig out the earth’s coins. That’s when I knew my love of adventure and simplicity would grow. I remember finding this tiny white chip of a rock that resembled a tooth. It made me wonder how many dead bodies might be buried beneath the property I called home. I wondered how many neighbors I really had, and if they were nice.
Rocks aren’t just rocks, and all my friends who know me well know my hidden love of rocks, but my only friend who doesn’t force me to let go of them is Aniah. The rock was hidden beneath a pile of stones. I was curious to see what was underneath, but I didn’t expect to find the lost pearl of the earth. It couldn’t compare to the rocks surrounding it in size, but it outwitted each and every one it was near—and get this: I found it.
“What’re you doing?” she walked up to me, I backed away. I knew she was most likely going to judge me.
“Rock hunting,” she stood away from me in her typical awkward school attire: curly hair wrapped in an army bandana, arms covered by deep jean blue jacket, legs sheltered by black skinny jeans and feet styled in black ankle boots.
“Cool, are you gonna name them?”
She just asked me that. She really just asked me that.
“I plan on it,” she’s mine. The girl walked over to the other side of the river of rocks, each shining, and the brighter they were, the greater their worth. Standing from across the river, bending down, she searched. She searched for something that she didn’t realize reminded her of something she wanted hold onto, something unforgettable.
I sat back and turned the pearl in my hands. It was so smooth; it was as if silk were wrapped around it. I wanted know why this seemed so precious, why it seemed so perfect. It wasn’t only beautiful in its simplicity, but it was wise in its inability to speak or to feel. It made me wonder why people just tossed them onto the floor and ignored them, as if they weren’t worth another thought when they were clearly tiny earths within a larger earth.
“What’re you doing?” I turned over to the girl that now sat beside me.
“Thinking,” I balanced the rock on my index finger, “why do you think it’s so perfect?”
The bell. I turned back on my back and stared at the sky, rock extended in front of my face. It was so strange to me now that I was really thinking about it, the earth was just a large rock, and these tiny rocks, like the one I’m holding, are her children. She stood and left, “I’ll see you later,” Okay. I didn’t say it, but I was thinking. I clutched the rock firmly in my hand, grabbed my backpack, and hurried to creative nonfiction, where I then planned to write about the very moment.
Sitting in my habitual chair near the sad, strong tree shoved in the corner of the classroom, wrapped in few leaves and thin lights, I conspired the way I would write. I thought of how I’d start the piece, the moment it’d end, that is until my thoughts collided into Ms. Flaisig’s words.
“Don’t overthink this exercise,” Oh no. My very existence incorporates me overthinking on a daily basis. She couldn’t possibly expect me not to do something I’ve clearly done my entire life. I felt the weight of the rock in my right leather pocket of my jacket. It was weighing that side of my jacket down, causing my shoulder to slump and soon my thoughts flooded out without my willingness. So yes, this piece involved a lot of overthinking, from the moment the turtle’s soul was threatened to rest forever in the black bag hanging from the back of the mower, to now as I write this. Of course, I try to think it’s my youthful imagination, but my mom said I’m an overthinker, she must be right.