Louisa pulled on her sneakers and laced them by herself. This was a trick she just learned and she was quite proud of herself. Her favorite blue jeans, she pulled over her laces and she put on a yellow roots sweater that her mother wore when she was young, like her. Handed down from one generation to another.
The spring was just learning to stand on it’s own a child that would still allow snow to fall. Louisa, an only child ran out in the brown, damp spring grass, and felt the dew splash up on her finger tips, and the water seeped into the cloth of her Keds. Her toes woke up as well as her lungs, in the fresh salt air.
The hill in her back yard went up to the heavens. She was running up to the top racing with her imaginary sister racing each other to the top to look down over their little piece of Newfoundland. Before she ever reached the sop she fell forward, she felt her knees fall into the mud and a ripping sound.
She started to cry, “these are my favorite jeans.” She cried digging her fingernails into the dirt to help her stand up. She would have to look at her mother like this. She stood up and her eyes reviewed her knees. They were muddy with a little bit of red blood on them.
Her defeated tears and torn body and spring mud, it all told her to turn around. Upon turning around there was the little stone she tripped over.
“A heart shaped rock.” She heard that these can help you find your way back home, she put it in her pocket and limped down the hill. She rubbed her eyes and her nose and put her muddy fingers through her hair. What little mud was left on her fingers she smeared on the rusty door knob on the way in the house.
“Mommy.” She said and paused not sure if she should cry about the jeans and the blood, or be excited about the rock.
“What happened?” Asked her mother. And Louisa started to cry pointing at the holes in her unicorn jeans.
“That’s Ok little one.” Said mom, “We’ll get you a new pair of jeans, what have you got in your hands?”
“It a rock shaped like a heart.”
“Look it’s been carved.” Said her mother. “We’ll have to take this to the museum.”
“It’s just a rock, let her play with it.” Said her father who walked out the rusty door came back in and cleaned the mud from the door knob with a sigh, and walked back out. “It a rock.”
Let’s go get cleaned up.” Said mom and she took Louisa to the bathroom with the crow foot tub and ran some water, it come out rusty at first and then clean water came through. Louisa got to pour some Epsom Salts in the water and her mother washed her hair and her hands and her knees. When she got out of the tub they put the hello kitty band aids on her knees and dipped the rock in the bath water. Rocks always become magic when their wet, this one had carvings on it and a little bit of red rock in the middle.
“Here” whispered her mother. “It’s still early let’s go into town, and see what the museum says…”
Louisa was in a dress by now her little Hello Kitty band aids displaying like tattoos, she was both proud and ashamed of them Unicorns and Hello Kitty she would soon have to grow up, but not today.
The air in the museum was dry and made her cough, not at all like the air on the hill. She didn’t really understand why she was there until her mother told her to hand the rock over to the curator.
“Looks like a Viking rock to me.” Said the lady. “Let me see that…” Louisa handed it over not knowing she wouldn’t get it back.
“May I keep this?” said the lady. Louisa shook her head no and heard her mother say “It’s just a rock.”
The two adults sat and talked for what seemed like an hour and Louisa soon lost interest. An interpreter, with her mother’s permission, took her to see the interactive display they had on the Vikings in the museum.
Her mother met up with her at the display and she held out her hands, wanting her rock back, but her mother just shook her head and said “Lets go get you’re favorite.”
They went home after a trip to pick up new jeans and some take out supper, only to find strangers digging up the back yard with strings and squares and brushes.
“If it’s just a rock,” she asked her mother, “why are so many people interested?”