A simple premise; a bold promise
To present one story per day, every day—
providing exceptional authors with exposure
and avid readers with first-rate fiction.

Today's Story by Judy Darley

Seems like seagulls are smarter, or at least more observant, than most human beings.

Rock Thoughts

I once went on a silent meditation weekend in the Brecon Beacons, and this feels a bit like that, just sitting around listening to my thoughts getting louder and louder in my head until I’m desperate to have a good shout. The retreat was supposed to last from Friday night till Sunday afternoon, but I wigged out on the Saturday, pretended I was going for a ‘soul-cleansing stroll’, stuffed my overnight things into a rucksack and never looked back.

I made Rob go back and collect the car a few days later. I thought they’d be irate, but Rob said they just told him to drive carefully. Apparently escapees are quite common. Surprising, really, that I didn’t meet any others on my way home, wild-eyed and gabbling with the intoxicating sense of freedom.

Oh, I miss that. Not the wild-eyed gabbling but the sense of freedom. In a sense I have more freedom now than I’ve ever experienced, but it’s not like I can do anything with it. Not like I can run, full pelt, feet sinking into the sand with each step until I reach the sea…

No chance of that though. Can’t talk, can’t move, can’t do anything at all except sit here and wait. I don’t even know how long I’ve been here now – day after day searing past in a patchwork of skies, each preceded by a dawn that lays itself limply over me, filling every hollow.

And between each day the nights, when I stare endlessly upwards at the blazing planets wondering how many, if any, were once women like me. Like I used to be.

I’ve seen a few people in the distance today, but none have come close, which suits me just fine. At least, that’s what I tell myself. I think I’d find it quite offensive if they let their children clamber over me, poke me with nets or sticks. It’s not like I can fight back!

Yesterday a seagull came and sat on me for a while, which made me a bit nervous. It kept looking at me with its sneering, beady eyes as though it knew I hated it digging its sharp claws into my body, but was helpless to do anything about it. Seems like seagulls are smarter, or at least more observant, than most human beings.

And this morning I noticed I’ve got a tiny rock pool forming in a little dip in my back – warms up nicely when the sun’s on it. No resident crabs yet, thank goodness.

Supposedly most souls get their memories wiped before being reborn so as not to cause complications, but with me they didn’t bother. I mean, it’s not like I can do anything with my memories, can I?

Sometimes I think I’m going crazy from spending so much time on my own. Too much time to think. Not that they didn’t warn me. They did tell me that it wouldn’t be exactly sociable, or entertaining, or even particularly interesting for that matter. But I was so desperate to get back here, get home, that I would have accepted anything they suggested. And this was the first thing that came up.

Maybe in my next life I can learn not to be quite so impatient.

I wonder how long a rock lives for, anyway. Geologists have carbon dated rocks back squillions of years, right to the origin of life on Earth, I reckon. But then again, those could just have been the corpses of rocks. It’s hard to say.

It’s not that I’m ungrateful or anything – it’s been a very… It’s been an experience. But I would really like to try being reincarnated as something else, like a bird, or a horse maybe – something that can really relish to the wind.

Or perhaps I could try being a woman again. That was good. Despite the long hours at the office and the stress and the chaos, I enjoyed that. Right up to the point when my car went out of control and slammed me into a wall.

No, I don’t really care what I become next, as long as it’s something that can do things. Watching the clouds shift in the sky is all very peaceful and contemplative, but to be perfectly honest I’m more than ready for a change of view.

Sitting on my stretch of beach on the shore of the River Camel Estuary I’m trying my best to soak up the tranquillity, like I always thought I wanted to. I spent such a lot of my last life wishing I had a bit of time to relax and just enjoy being. Well, now I’ve got all the time in the world, and the truth is that I’m bored.

Ah well, this is a rather lovely beach, I suppose. At least I’m not in a volcano or something. And I can watch the water, which is, incidentally, a very nice shade of turquoise today. Don’t ask me how I can watch it, when, if I remember correctly from my human days, rocks don’t actually have eyes.

Oh well, I suppose I should make the most of it, shouldn’t I? When I was a human I was always rushed off my feet with work, always desperate for a holiday, so really I should just sit back and think of this as a sort of extended holiday. A very, very long extended holiday. Like I’ve got a choice.

And it’s true, if I look at it objectively I have to agree that this is a very nice beach. Being a rock isn’t so bad, I guess.


Judy Darley is a fiction writer and journalist. Previously her short stories have been published by literary magazines and anthologies including The View From Here, Gemini Magazine, ‘Crab Lines Off the Pier’. Riptide and Litro Magazine. She tweets at http://twitter.com/EssentialWriter


To comment on this story, visit Fiction365′s Facebook page.