When you were born a tall handsome woman with the slenderest of fingers gave you
back your stone. She placed it on your tongue like an aspirin and held your mouth shut and stroked
your throat until you had to swallow. The stone is smooth, shaped and pressed by the weight of
all the world’s waters, rolled by the journeys of all the world’s rivers to the sea.
Inside you it becomes a perfect sphere the size of a pea. A thin layer of cells coats it so that
you can carry it all your life like a shark carries souvenirs from all its meals.
When you are ready to die the woman will come again. She will still be handsome and her fingers
will still be sharp. With incredible ease, and drawing very little blood, she will reach through
your side and pluck out the stone, now big as a cherry. It has absorbed all your days and nights
which give it the color of pale blood. It is your stone, but she will keep it for you. When she
swallows the stone your heart will burst. When you are ready to try again, she will come to you.
She will put the stone on your tongue and hold your mouth and stroke and stroke your throat. It
will be harder to swallow. You will always wish for a smaller stone.