Pablo the Pebble
A story by Emma Dear.
I sit at the edge of the waterfall, wobbling slightly. I am reluctant to become an adult rock. Or rather, stone, as the teachers told me in Pebble Primary. I’ve learnt all about attrition, abrasion and meanders and erosion and being “deposited” somewhere. The teachers say it’s natural, and a part of growing up, but I still feel uncomfortable. I am right at the edge of the overhang with my friends, and that’s the place where we’ll eventually end up dropping into the...
I swirl around. My friends are yelling as they rotate, but it’s mostly joy. I’m the only one screaming in terror. I’m underwater, and I’m finding it difficult. The teachers say we don’t need to breathe, but I always do, and it’s unnerving not being able to.
“Hey, this is great, Pablo!”
No, it’s not. It’s really not. I feel like I’m going to spew out a bit of water I absorbed earlier.
Eventually it stops and I sigh in relief. My friends look slightly disappointed. They’re called Pedro, Penelope and Paul. Pedro’s mostly a thrill seeker. Penelope is a gossipy rock. Paul...he’s rather shy, but right now it looks like he’s having the time of his life. We float momentarily. Then we start sinking.
This must be attrition. We are carried by the river and collide with each other.
I bang into Pedro and he glares at me, then helplessly bumps into Penelope, who then lurches at Paul. He smashes into the side of the river, but he’s okay. His head has chipped a little bit though, and according to him, that really hurts.
Then he bashes into Penelope, who lurches forward and hits me. I am then spun into the edge of the river just like Paul was. He’s right, it does hurts when you chip your head.
This goes on for a very long time, and we get smaller and rounder, like pebbles, until I see a glimpse of hope. The meanders. These will ensure to split us up. We stand, or bob really, side by side. As I’m somehow at the inside of the meander, this means that I’ll go slowest around the bends. Phew. Paul, who is on the outside, will be moving the fastest, which doesn’t look good for him, as he’s gone the faintest green and is mumbling about how he wants his mummy. Pedro’s next to him, trying to get to Paul’s left so he can go fastest, but it’s too late.
I’m going at a luxurious pace. I feel like I’m going down a lazy river in a water park, whereas Paul looks like he’s going as fast as lightning. I can’t see his face, but I’m guessing he’s regretting putting himself round the outside of the river when I remember he had no choice. We move at different speeds around the bends, and this happens for what seems like an eternity, and I’m starting to get used to the fact I’ll be endlessly moving so, so, so slow when I... I start to doze off.
“Look! Pablo’s sinking!”
This wakes me up with a jerk as I realise that I am not moving at all. Or at least, very, very slowly. But
I am moving fast downwards. “Bye!” I say to them. “Race you to the end!” Then I realise we may not see each other again and I feel unhappy. “I’ll miss you.” I say sadly as my head sinks below the water. They shout something back, but I can’t hear them. What did they say? I’ll never know. They’re just rocks I tell myself. But you’re a rock too. And they were your friends. I feel a twinge of guilt for thinking they were just rocks. They were so much more.
I lie at the bottom, feeling lonely. I must have gone down the slip - off - slope, as the water had lost its energy on the inside of the meanders we were travelling down. Now, what happens next?
I wait. For a very long time. Far longer than when I was travelling down the meander. Very long, but I don’t know how long because I haven’t got a watch. Just long.
Eventually, after a very long long long time, I suddenly feel the water rising. Fast. Oh, I remember. The river’s flooding! And I’m going to be the levees! This will be fun!
Although only me in our group of friends was deposited in the slip off slope, we all need to prepare for this in Pebble Primary as we don’t know what the future holds. They’re called
Leveexams. Not bragging, but I got 100% on that one. Basically, I’ll be on the banks of the river and as the river continues flooding, there’ll be more and more rocks like me piled up on one another. We used to do that in PE (Pebble Education) to practice balancing on top of each other in case this happens. Again, you don’t know if you will have to do this while you travel down the river, but we need to practice just in case. It’s fun anyway! Then I guess I’ll be deposited in the river and get back on track.
I continue to watch above my head while I rise. I’m excited. Other rocks are rising with me, a few I recognise, some I have no idea who they are. Their expressions range from terror to joy. One rock cries out, “If you can’t fight it, join it!” Join it I will. We keep floating up, up, up.
Eventually, I am deposited on the edge of the river. Several battered rocks are below me, beside me, above me, everywhere! They’re all groaning and the occasional cries of pain can be heard.
“Ugh. Why did I sign up to this?”
“I have, like, literally no room!” says a rock that was in my class. She called Pamela and she’s not the nicest of rock beings, but she’s very loyal and very good at keeping secrets. Not that stones or uh, rocks have any secrets. None of us have any room. We’re all awkwardly cramped.
Eventually the river resumes flowing at a normal pace and although none of us say it, we’re all secretly relieved. It’s hard balancing on top of other rocks for such a great space of time. Actually, I think we’re starting to wobble. I bit too much. We look at each other, realising the gravity of the situation. Ha ha. Then we start to panic.
All this does is guarantee we wobble even more. Too much.
This is not fun anymore. The first rock falls off and splashes noisily. The wave makes me lose concentration, which means the second rock falls off screaming. Luckily, I am near the top, so I will fall in the river and this will be over and done with. It might be harder to get back in the river if you are at the bottom.
I was right. A rock below me gives a huge sigh and relaxes his shoulders. I stumble, then tumble off.
Thank Goodness. That was horrible. I give the rocks still balanced precariously a huge smile and say as I fall, “Good Luck!”
Unfortunately, my mouth was still open so I swallowed some water. Ugh, although I probably needed a drink, it tastes terrible. Right. Now I’m in the river. But which part of the river? I’ve most definitely passed the upper course. Right now, the water is bouncing me gently along the river bed, and I’m slowly colliding with other rocks. That must mean I’m quite small, so this is Saltation. But what will happen now?”
Sicky-coloured green heads up towards us. Oh I think dismally. This is when I am dissolved. Solution. I hate this part. It’s scary. All of the minerals inside me will go.
“Hello,” says a small little voice that’s perfectly smooth. Acid. These were the bullies at Pebble Primary and they were always picking on the naturally small rocks, like me.
They weren’t very nice. But they have a purpose, just like everybody else here. Still, that doesn’t mean I’m not ridiculously scared of them.
“Go away!” I say, my voice shivering, not from the biting cold of the water, but of nerves. We learnt to resist the temperature of the water at school, so we wouldn’t get really scared by the absolute shock of the coldness. We didn’t learn how to swim though, which is annoying, as right now I could really use that skill. So it probably knows I’m terrified. Which is even more terrifying. Why should I have to get dissolved? Why should any of this be our life, and that’s all we do? I should have asked, but I was young, and I just accepted it.
“You’re frightened?” It sneers.
Yes, I am, but that’s not what to say. I quickly try and paddle around the thing. It lurches forward and hits me, which really hurts. Still, I keep paddling. It keeps hurting me but I persist. Eventually, he decides to go away and hurt some other rocks, but not after he’s left me feeling ill. Minerals are a part of us. It’s like something taking your guts. We can survive, but it’s not nice. I am considerably smaller too.
Now I think I’m reaching the mouth of the river, where I’ll float into the sea and then get pushed up the beach by this thing called swash. It’s looks like foam. This’ll continuously happen. I travel along at a regular pace. The sea is steady, so it looks like I won’t be thrown to bits. I’m minding my own business when a hand picks me up from the water.
“George, don’t be wading in the river! All there is is muck!”
How very insulting. I see a lady with a pram at the edge of the river. She looks concerned.
“I found a stone Mummy! Can I keep it? It’s smiling at me!”
I am, because I can see that it’s a child, wading in the water. He wants to keep me!
“Yes, George, whatever, if it will make you get out of the filthy river!”
George sounds like Gorge. That’s when a waterfall kind of moves backward when the water erodes softer rock underneath and creates an overhang, which eventually collapses, like I did!
He carries me out of the water.
“Can we go home now?”asks George. “I want to look after him. I’m calling him Pablo.”
What a nice coincidence! Eventually, we are in a moving contraption thing that George’s mother calls a “car” and we end up where George lives, a square building. He sets me down next to where he sleeps. He says, “I’ll always look after you, Pablo. I’ll show you to my Geography teacher and you can explain what you’ve been through! She’ll love that!”
Years later, I’ve got used to living with George. He is a lot older now, but he still looks after me. He did show me to his Geography teacher and she still tells my story to year seven students at the school George attends. Sometimes she even asks students to write their own creative stories about me. They are all different, but each one of them imaginatively retells my adventure. I never forget it, and I never will, so I wrote my own book about it. That book was called Pablo The Pebble, but I didn’t want people not reading it because I’m a Pebble. So the name on the cover says it’s by Emma Dear. So if you see it, read it and remember the story of Pablo.