I wrote this short story a while back and I even sent it in for a short story competition. I'm surprised at how it has turned out as the actual ending of the story was far from the original. The funny thing is that no matter how much I drafted and planned, the story always shape-shifts when I come back to revise it. Now, I think it's tired, so it's resting for a bit. But who knows, this story may change again; it may even birth a sequel... :)
Without further ado, I present to you,
A Pebble’s Journey – My Story
I sat along the side of the gravel road in front of my house, waiting and thinking. Excitement and fear fought for a place in my heart. I blinked hard, and struggled to control my emotions. Scuffing the ground with my ankle-high boots, I saw something sparkle. Curious, I leaned over and picked up a strangely shiny pebble. Picking the pebble from the ground, I turned the smooth, cool stone over in my hands. This pebble has probably been here for a long time, like me, I’ve been here… Forever. I sighed. Then again, this pebble may have been all over the world before landing here. If adventure calls it, it’ll go. I stared at the stone, wondering what to do with it. Finally, I decided to keep the pebble and slipped it into my skirt pocket.
Pulling my cream-colored coat tightly around me, I bowed my head, closed my eyes and breathed in the Canadian afternoon air. Opening my eyes, I watched the leaves scuttle and chased each other around my feet. Crisp bronze leaves swirled in the autumn wind. Mesmerized by the rich color of the leaves, I failed to hear the sound of a car until it rolled into view. I sucked my breath in sharply as the car slowed to a stop. Gingerly, I stepped in and pulled my suitcase onto my lap. I looked up the driveway and at my small and simple house, the house that I had lived in since I was born. It used to be cheery, bright, and noisy, but now, everyone has embarked on their own separate journeys and left me behind. Both my parents had passed away, and my three older brothers each live in a different part of the globe.
Slamming the door, I bit my lip. Gently, the car rolled forward. I closed my eyes and rested my head on the window, letting it cool my skin. I was on my way to Paris. I, Ashlynn Greye, the most insecure, timid, and lonely person on the face of the earth, was going to Paris on my own.
An hour later, I stood in front of the check-in counter, worriedly fiddling with my bracelet. Smiling as she looked at me, the lady at the counter took my passport. She had shiny white teeth and bright red lips. I watched them the entire time she spoke.
“Paris is a beautiful place.” She said, her red lips shaping the words perfectly.
I nodded dumbly, mesmerized.
“Are you going with anyone?”
I shook my head, wishing she would stop talking to me and just hand my passport back.
“Here’s your passport and enjoy your trip.”
I turned and barely took a step when she called to me, “Try the macarons there, they are delicious.”
Turning back, I smiled and nodded my head awkwardly. I have only eaten a macaron once before. Recalling the taste of the buttery and light confectionery, I missed its characteristic subtle hint of almond flavor as well as its crisp outer shell and moist chewy innards. Slowly, I made my way to the departure hall. Noise and voices and lights and smells encompassed me. For years, I lived alone, only making contact with the world for a couple of hours every day to work as a cashier at the nearby gas station. Airports and noisy places constituted part of my distant memory. Sounds from the cafés and check-in counters swirled around me and filled me, rising and falling like music from an orchestra. Drowning in all these sounds, I nearly bumped into someone. I missed the person, but tripped over his luggage. My suitcase hit the floor, and a loud crack resonated throughout the room. Heads turned and eyes explored my face. Flustered, I sped off, clutching my suitcase to my chest, face burning with embarrassment.
Panting, I arrived at the departure hall. Still hugging my suitcase, I handed my passport to the immigration officer. He had thick eyebrows, really thick eyebrows. Before I realized it, my eyes were glued to them. He smiled, his eyebrows softening.
“You’re early, there’s no need to rush.” Looking from me to my passport, he asked, “Ashlynn Greye?” His eyebrows went up. I nodded.
“Have you ever been to Paris?”
I shook my head.
“You’ve seen the Eiffel Tower, I presume?” He raised one eyebrow.
I tore my eyes away from his brows and nodded.
He returned my passport, and I took one last look at his eyebrows before scurrying into the waiting room.
In the waiting room, I examined my suitcase. Interestingly, it held together despite the crack. Laying my suitcase on my lap, I scanned my surroundings. Unconsciously, I twisted my hands. Then I gasped and panic gripped me. My bracelet, the one my mother gave me before she left, had disappeared! Look what you’ve done! I scolded myself, If you have not decided to come on this stupid trip, you would not have lost Mom’s bracelet. Fool! I scanned at the floor and checked the sleeves of my coat to ensure it did not catch onto anything. While I searched, I repeatedly chided myself. My panic grew, until I felt the pebble in my pocket. I pulled it out and turned it over in my trembling hands, remembering the resolution I made earlier that day. At the same time, someone announced that passengers could begin to board the plane. People slowly flowed towards the doors that led to the plane. As I looked gathering crowd of people, I bit my lip. Slowly, I put one foot in front of the other and started toward the doors.
Ten minutes later, I sat in the plane. Under me, the seat felt sleek and silky. Running my hand over the black leather, I enjoyed its velvety smoothness. As I held on to the pebble, a sense peacefulness washed over me like a warm, soothing wave. Sleep claimed me minutes after the takeoff. I awoke halfway through the journey, and throughout the rest of it I observed people and dreamed about Paris. Before she died, my mother confessed to me she had always wanted to go to Paris but never got to. Feeling an obligation to fulfill her desire, I vowed to visit Paris. Miles up in the air, it comforted me to think Mother would approve of this.
Seven hours later, the plane jerked, lurched, and slowed. I had landed safely in Paris. Looking out my window, I realized it was late and raining. As I neared the doors of the plane, a cool blast of damp air hit me in the face, tugging at strands of my chestnut brown hair. As I stepped off the plane, my body tingled with excitement. Confidently, I strolled through immigration and toward the taxi stand. Minutes later, I walked into a huge hotel. Its grandeur and splendor completely stole my breath. All the excitement and tension had completely sapped me of all my energy and when I got to my room, I fell into bed and slept, dreaming of wonderful times I would spend in Paris.
Days passed in a blur. For all 22 years of my life, I have never felt so alive. I ate, toured, slept with a smile on my face. Pictures of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Notre Dame de Paris, and other Paris attractions filled my camera. Every one of those pictures had a little pebble in it.
Finally, the last day of my holiday arrived. I toyed with the pebble as I walked down one of Paris’s most beautiful streets. Suddenly, it slipped and clattered to the ground. It began to roll away. Running behind it, I heaved a sigh of relief as it stopped rolling. As I picked the pebble up, I realized I stood in front of a café. Pastel pink, lime green, and bold purple macarons filled the display. My mouth watered as the smell of freshly baked macarons filled my nostrils; it’s delicately sweet and fruity floral fragrance beckoning me to buy them.
“Welcome!” A voice broke the silence. A young man with dark brown hair stood behind the counter. I found myself looking at the deepest, most beautiful pair of hazel brown eyes.
“Um, hi. I want to buy some macarons.” I said awkwardly.
“Wait, aren’t you… that girl …?” He asked squinting at me.
“What?” I managed before he rushed off into the back of the shop.
“Is this yours?” Something dangled from his fingers.
“My bracelet! Where’d you find it?” I grabbed it. As I held it in my hands, relief and joy bubbled from within me.
“You trip over my luggage in Montreal.” He explained. “Wow! I didn’t expect to see you here.” he added as he ran a hand through his hair.
I realized something different about the bracelet’s chain. Originally thick and old-fashioned, the chain had transformed into something delicate and pretty.
He saw my expression and quickly said, “Oh yeah, I changed the chain. It snapped. I hope you like. Nothing missing, I hope.”
I counted the beads, “No, nothing.” I replied. “Thanks.”
“So, are you buying anything?”
“Of course!” I smiled.
After spending a couple minutes deciding, I picked out a boxful of macarons. I handed him the money and skipped off. As the door closed, I heard him say something but I ignored it. You see, I left him a present; a special, small, smooth, round present.