The City under the Stone

Do you ever wonder how they got there?

All these stones down by the river. Some speckled with silver, catching the light. Others delicately painted by nature in shades of pink and grey. Some white as kittens, others rust-red or gravestone grey. Each one a work of art, in its way.

I suppose there’s an explanation. Perhaps the river patiently unearthed them. Perhaps it carved them from their hard-shelled neighbours and smoothed them with watery caresses over hundreds of years, where I now walk. I’m no geologist, anyway.

Before I come back from the river, I always pick a stone or two to carry up to the house. I carry them, one in each hand, to plant in the garden. Eventually – the process will take years, I think – it will become a rock garden, a stone garden. Fire will dance on the stones and shrivel the plants between them, but rocks do not burn.

Today I pick my stone with care. I have only one hand to carry it with, the other having been injured. And there it is, a stone like an egg, with blue veins running through it, cold, round, beautiful. I reach down and lift it from its bed of river-sand…I stop. I freeze.

For underneath the stone is a city. At first glance, I see only grains of sand, damp with the dew, but then some movement catches my eye, like the motion of tiny mirrors, and I lean closer, and – how can I describe this to you? – another world opens itself. It grows, and grows, and fills my vision, until I find myself staring up at great spheres of glass and gold, dwarfed, surrounded. A green-eyed buttefly pauses beside me, and closes her stately wings of silver and royal blue. Gravely she asks,

“Your first time?”

This was for a writing prompt, ‘You lift up a rock and are surprised by what’s under there…’. Feel free to supply your own version – what would you like (or hate) to find under a rock? Something wonderful? Something frightening? A slug? And, for sci fi devotees, there’s a bunch of FREE books over here at Tales for the Future!

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash


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