Cry Stone Tears

Chapter 1: Soul

I know who he is.
He does not know me.
Here’s what’s important:
I believe I can read his soul.


“Do I know you?” my friend said.
“No, you don’t. You never did.”
Now, she remembered me. There were tears in her eyes. “But don’t you know me?” she asked. “Don’t you remember?”
“Yes,” I said. “I do. I’d know you from a thousand miles.”
She thought I was going mad. Or that maybe I was sick. But I wasn’t. I was just fine.


They told me I never stopped reading.
And it was true. I never did. I was always reading.
I read books.
I also read souls.
But I could not read my own.


I used to sit during recess. Used to read a book. And I used to watch. I watched the other kids running around and laughing, playing tag. And I noticed things. Noticed that the prissy fourth-grader near the fence admired another girl in her class, and that she wanted to befriend her. It wasn’t working. I could see that. Noticed that the girl across the yard was friends with some of the boys. That was unusual. Talked with them. There was one boy who hated her. I could see the hate in his eyes. No one else could. They all thought she was a bit of a tomboy. I thought she was like a rosebush. Hard thorns encasing a sweet flower. But no one else saw. I never talked to any of them. I still knew.
Outside, I think I was normal. I talked and laughed and chased my friends. I teased the other kids. Made new friends. They all told me I was calm.

“You’re so calm,” they would say. “How are you so calm?”

“I’m not,” I would reply.

They insisted I was anyway. I don’t think it mattered what I said. All the teachers had different opinions of me. Some told my mom I was too shy.

“Kai doesn’t participate enough. She’s too quiet,” they told her.

I wasn’t shy at all. I just didn’t think the questions were worth answering. The teachers didn’t realize that. I have a lot of friends. Every single one of them tells people they know me inside and out. My soul isn’t inside out. It’s hidden. Only I can find it. I laughed inside when they said things like that.

It all started with a book. As usual.

The book was called Friends, and it consisted of quotes from kids of all ages. As I read those quotes, I felt a rush of understanding. Like I knew what each kid was thinking as they wrote it. I did.

One boy, age four, said, “Having a friend is better than having a brother sometimes.” I knew he had a recent fight with his brother. He wasn’t mad at him or anything. He was just drawing conclusions. Adults don’t take four-year-olds seriously. They don’t get that there’s actual reasoning behind their statements. Later on, I found I could do the same thing with people.

I first saw him when I was reading. He was resting briefly beside me after doing some fierce running.

Another girl, who later turned out to be the tomboy, said, “Hey Rowan.”

He didn’t answer. It was then that I knew he hated her. By denying the return of a simple greeting, he had inadvertently shown his dislike of her. He only stuck with her because the rest of the boys did. That stuff was common among them. I believe he was actually somewhat more insightful than the others. I had a mild interest in him because of that. He wasn’t good enough to read souls though. Like mine.

Once, I wanted to test him, see how good he was at controlling his emotions and figuring out those of others.

I said, “ You don’t like that girl, do you?” I pointed at the same one he had refused to greet.

He looked at me suspiciously. “That’s none of your business.” Case closed.

He didn’t know. My head was like a battlefield. Part of me wished other people could understand me, that I was a person, and that I had a soul too. I wasn’t just the calm girl reading books on the sideline. The other part liked being anonymous. Liked being able to read other’s emotions and render them incapable of reading mine.

Reading souls is like being able to discern personality at a glance. Normally, people know each other for years and can’t figure it out. I could do it at a glance. Sometimes, it scared me. And people claimed I was normal. Sure.


Chapter 2: She Came Again

There used to be a girl I knew. Her name was Camryn. She was from Thailand and had the most gorgeous hair, down to her waist. It was black, silky, and she paid absolutely no attention to it. What she did pay attention to was soccer. She would put up her locks in a bun and play, day in, day out. She played after school, during recess, everywhere. The only time she stopped was to one: criticize me, and two: upbraid me for reading. Again.

Despite that major difference, we were still friends. Last year, she moved and changed schools. Never saw her again. That is, until now. I was walking home. My house is a bit far for walking, but I liked the view and the scenery, so I walked. I decided to clear-cut through the park, and I stopped next to a tree to watch a group of kids playing soccer. Camryn was one of them, of course. I felt a little jolt in my heart; I had imagined her for so long that to actually see her was a bit of a shock. I still wasn’t particularly surprised or anything. It was only when I realized she was on the verge of tears that I felt something other than calm. That something was concern. She ran past me, holding the object of her worries. The soccer ball. It was encased in some sort of wire, and apparently, no one had managed to get it off. She ran past me, distraught. I grabbed her arm. She turned.

“Do I know you?” my friend said.

“No, you don’t. You never did.”

Now, she remembered me. There were tears in her eyes. “But don’t you know me?” she asked. “Don’t you remember?”

“Yes,” I said. “I do. I’d know you from a thousand miles.”

She thought I was going mad. Or that maybe I was sick. But I wasn’t. I was just fine.

“Kai,” she said, confusion in her voice, but at the same time, relief. Hesitating and unsure, she changed the subject to her object of woe. “Can you pull this off? Please? We have a game and the other team will kill us because it’s our turn to bring the ball!”

I took the ball and examined it. I sat down and pulled off the wire, bit by bit. It was rather difficult, and my hands were scratched, but I just handed the ball to her and hid my hands behind me. Camryn hugged me then.

“Good luck!” I called. I did not know if she heard. I had a feeling she did. Usually, those feelings were right.

I walked home. I had a headache. Or maybe a heartache. I couldn’t tell. But I did lie down on my bed. My parents were not yet home from work. For now, I could rest. Rest and think. Think. That was my last thought before I fell asleep.

I was crying on the shore, my reflection distorted by the waves below. Each of my tears turned into smooth, white pebbles. They piled up around me until I could not find my way out. I was clawing helplessly against the growing sculpture when I felt a shadow over me. I looked up and a lock of hair, gorgeous, black hair, fell to the floor. I heard a piercing scream.

“Don’t hurt her! She’s my friend!” I called in vain. The wall was getting higher and higher. I cried out as the stones began to choke me. I woke up. Something was underneath me. It was a smooth, white stone. I trembled, and the strength left my body.


They told me I was sick afterwards.

I did not go to school.
I knew that nightmare.
was the same one
That I had
After that day
On the river
When I watched the little girl
Fall in the water
And she nearly drowned.
And the same nightmare
I had after every time I cried.
I stopped crying then.
I didn’t want to cry
Ever again.
So I didn’t.


I was trusted with secrets by my friends: hopes, dreams, fears. I think it reassured them that I could take it without fuss, that I could comfort them with perfect confidence and not seem equally worried.


It was easier then.
But not so easy.


Chapter 3: Run

I walked up to the park the following week, and I watched my sporty friend Camryn practice. She was good, I had to admit. I walked up every week after that too, at least twice. Most of the time, she never noticed me, but that was fine. Seeing her was all I expected. I always sat at a distance so as not to disturb the players, and sometimes, I brought a book to keep me company. It was almost peaceful there. Sometimes, some of the neighborhood kids would watch too; they were not very nice and yelled insults at the players when they made mistakes. This led to more creative and elaborate schemes, such as yelling while riding by on a bicycle, threatening to steal the ball, and running in front of the players in the middle of the game. Obviously, it wasn’t so peaceful anymore, but Camryn was fine, and all was well. That is, until the stones.


They threw stones at them
Smooth, white stones
And they laughed
When one girl
Hit hard in the face
Fell to the ground
My friend is angry now
Very angry
And she yells
And screams
And curses
Those wretches
When they aim
A rock
A big one
At her
I jump in front of her
They were surprised
And I was more
To find myself
In mid air
And crashing senseless
To the ground.
I am surrounded
Like a criminal
I was just trying
To be a good friend
My stomach is bleeding
I cannot breathe
And my shoulder
Seems broken
After the fall.
She is crying now
Though I am silent.
I’m sorry
I didn’t mean to upset her
I’m sorry.
They are gone now
I hear someone say
is running to me now
She is turning me over
And examining me
Oblivious to my blood
Sinking into her clothing.
I missed you
I manage to gasp out
I cling to her
Before the world goes black
And I see nothing.
But I feel her arms around me.
Chapter 4: When All is Quiet

It hurts
And I don’t want it
Make it stop
It hurts
Please stop
Someone is holding me
Stroking my back
I want Camryn
I want to see
If she is alright
I am calling her
I am kicking
I don’t want to be here
I want to find Camryn
But she is here
She is with me
She is holding me
In her lap.
She says
It’s alright
It’s okay
To cry now
Just cry.
I can’t cry anymore.
I shut my eyes
And the tears come
But they are there
In my eyes
Like stones
I don’t know how to cry
I can’t even cry
Stone tears.
I want to close my eyes
Shut my ears
It’s too loud
When all is quiet.
She holds a finger
To my lips
I try to turn away
I kick
Trying to escape
That noise
It is my heart
And that scares me.
She holds me
I am too weak
To struggle
I have no strength
No more
Than an infant.
I can’t be strong anymore
I forgot
I can only be weak
Weak and helpless.
And I collapse and close my eyes.
A nurse comes in
She lifts up my shirt
My shoulder is sore
It is bandaged
And hard to move.
I look down
And my stomach
Is scarred
Purple streaks
Mixed with blood.
The nurse
She is wrapping
The white
The long
My waist.
It hurts
I try
To pull away
But I can’t
And I am shaking
So hard
I can’t breathe.

There is a mask around my mouth.
It’s an oxygen mask
And it forces the air
Into my lungs
And I am winded
As if
I ran
A thousand miles.
When the nurse
Goes out
Takes off
The oxygen mask
She says
I feel like I’m drowning
Like that little girl
That little girl
Falling in the river.

But she has pulled me out
And I breathe.
She cannot understand me
And she never will
But she
Can read my soul.
And then
I know
I am not alone.
I was calm
And I could not cry
Not even
Stone tears.
I cry now
And my tears are not stone
They flow
in accordance
With my soul.
And Camryn holds me through it all.
We are silent
But we are one
And I am whole.
I am exhausted
And I fall
Into a restless
I cried
My heart out
But there is no nightmare
There is no stone.
Only quiet.
I stayed with her at the hospital that night.
In the morning
I looked out the window
and at the river
and my last thought was
It’s beautiful.
As I looked up
I seemed to see myself
walking again
along the shore.
And I whispered
I whispered it again
and said it once more
I know now
I know
that I’m not alone.

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