The stories that get told from bad times can be dark indeed. But sometimes the most memorable are the flashes of wisdom, hope...
We weren’t happy. Who would be? Forced here, where we were basically food. If we got lucky, we died or became one of them. And what if becoming one of them meant a shift in thought so huge that we became…well, like them?
I touched the stones in my pocket. As I went through the day I saw a girl yelling at the guards. I handed her the varied brown one that said wisdom. Her lips twitched and she nodded; fell back. She tucked the stone in her pocket.
A few days later, a little boy was hiding in the corner. He was sobbing his clear, too-old gray eyes out. I took his hand and pressed the pale green stone into it. He looked at it, then at me. He clung to me and we held each other until he stopped crying. I convinced him to start washing and eating again.
Barely a few hours after that, I was flipping the last one over and over. It was black, and polished very smooth. I think it had been like that since the start. I might just have come to it for comfort enough.
A woman was praying. Before, I had heard her saying she wouldn’t pray anymore. It didn’t surprise me that she was. We were all going back to old comforts, and until she said she’d stop a few days after coming here, she’d prayed every evening. She said she had since she was six.
The topic didn’t really surprise me either. It wasn’t even covered in pretty language anymore. “I’m trying. I’m trying. But I don’t understand why.”
I looked around, checking for anyone obvious. The fact that I couldn’t see them wasn’t really pertinent. When they wanted to be seen, we obeyed every rule perfectly because they were cementing their power. Most, though, just wanted to make sure none of us were trying anything too dire—-like escaping—-and get on with it.
No one I could see. It crept down off my bunk and over to hers. By the time I got there her prayers had stopped, she was just crying. It hurt—I mean it physically hurt—to see someone so broken. I hoped the outburst would help her, but I was worried she’d just fall farther.
She jerked up and looked at me. “What?” she asked sharply. Then she closed her eyes and softened. “Sorry. Yes?”
I took a breath. This was my last, but it was worth it. But it was my last, so I better make it count. “I’m Amelia.”
“When I was little, I got these stones. They’ve got words on them, and they help me remember what I want to do, or be.”
She nodded. “I’ve seen you giving them out. How many have you got left?”
“Just the one.” I held the small oval of polished black out. In the dark, it was nearly invisible, though it reflected a lot of light.
A few phrases ran through my head. ‘(I think) It’ll do you more good than me.’ ‘You need it more than I do.’ But that wasn’t what I wanted to say.
“I want you to have it.”
She took it, solid black indent up. “What’s it say?”
“Turn it over.”
She looked at me; then turned it over.
“If you ever need me, just ask.”
She stared at the stone for a moment. Tears welled up in her eyes, but she smiled a little now. “Thank you.” Her eyes went to mine. “The same goes for you.”
I smiled. “Thank you.”
That last one said trust.