I can’t believe the incredible outpouring of generosity that has been bestowed on my dreams in just the past four days! It is absolutely incredible to me that my campaign is now more than halfway to being fully funded. $3400 seemed like SO much money to me, I really didn’t know the love and support that was out there with my name on it! You guys are AMAZING! To thank you for helping me hit the ground running, and to encourage you to keep sharing about my project and helping me raise funds for it, I give you: An excerpt 🙂 (PS: WP messed up the formatting and I can’t get it to right itself, or even fix it myself! Sorry about that!)
Allaya opened her eyes and looked around at the empty beach, at the calm water that lay just beneath her dangling feet. She ached for those days she remembered–the days when her life knew no grief.
“Now or never,” she sighed as she slipped off the dock and into the water.
The water’s frigid temperature stabbed at her skin as she fought the urge to climb back out of the water and seek warmth in the August sun, so she swam to the bottom quickly and grabbed a small rock from the bed of the lake. Propelling herself upward, she reached the surface and gasped for breath, letting out a shrill screech. The sun was shining strong and the air was hot, but the lake, like any other northwestern body of water, didn’t respond to the heat.
Allaya swam over to the dock, pulled herself up, wrapped her towel around her torso, and sat down, turning the rock over in her hands. Just a simple rock to anyone else, but to her it symbolized more than she even cared to acknowledge. Endings versus beginnings . . . open wounds versus healing. She sighed and looked at it thoughtfully, remembering all the hours she had spent in this lake with her family collecting stones, pebbles and rocks for their garden. It had taken them years, but they had finally collected enough rocks to border their garden and the walkway up to the house back in Portland.
The rule had been that everyone got one rock per day, and whatever rock you picked up, that was the one you had to keep. As if they were right there with her, she could hear her family arguing about the rule in her memory.
“Why can’t we just get a whole bunch of rocks at once?” Marielle asked as she ran her hands across the row of rocks sitting on the sill of the picture window of the lake house.
“Every year!” Shara groaned and buried her head in a pillow.
Allaya smiled as she remembered the explanation her dad had given at least twice for each week they had spent at the lake:
“Well, Marielle, each of these rocks is like a song,” he explained, animatedly gesturing with his hands. “The good ones stick with you; they play over and over in your head.” He picked up a jagged black and white speckled stone. “If one of these rocks has anything special about it, for instance, if you see this rock”— he picked up one of the day’s finds— “and you remember this conversation—”
“For the love, Marielle! Remember this conversation!” Shara snorted.
“Then that rock will stick with you,” Dad continued. “And when you walk through the garden and see this rock, it will mean something to you. If we had just dived down and dragged a whole bunch of rocks up from the bed of the lake, well, they’d just be a pile of rocks! And of course, then there would be nothing to hold the lake down, and it would just shimmy up into the sky and we‘d never be able to come here again.”
“Da-ad!” Marielle giggled.
Shara rolled her eyes.
He had been right, though. They had scoffed at the tradition, but once the garden and walkway were finished, the girls could easily pick out the peculiar rocks that held some memory or meaning.
“Oooh! I remember this one! That was the day that the Meyers’ boat sank to the bottom of the lake!” Shara said as she crouched down to examine the rocks that lined their garden back in Portland.
“I remember cutting my hand on this one, and then I had to go to the doctor because the cut got infected. Why we continued to swim in that cesspool after that I will never understand!” Marielle remembered with a disgusted look on her face as she ran her finger over the scar on her palm.
Allaya leaned back on her elbows and lifted her face up so the sun kissed her skin. Her towel unwrapped itself and slid to her sides.
“The good old days,” she said quietly to herself, barely aware of a tear slipping down her cheek. She lowered her arms to lay down, focusing on the sound of the water slapping against the dock.
The lake had always been a place of peace for her, a place of refuge. At the end of every school year—in fact, two weeks before—the girls would begin the countdown to the family’s departure to Herron Lake. It was there that each of the girls, in their own right, could escape whatever troubles plagued them at home or at school. Boys, friends, tests, responsibilities. No matter what went on during the year, the lake was a haven, and the girls could breathe easily, knowing nothing was required of them.
Allaya reveled in that same peace now. This was the only place where she could escape and truly finish the journey that had been forced upon her two years earlier. This was where she could find herself again, and with it being the end of the summer, she was virtually alone. Most of the families who vacationed here had returned home to prepare their children for the new school year, with only days left until it began. Only two or three families remained, and they weren’t in the vicinity of Allaya’s refuge. The cabins to the left and right of the Sheldon’s were within shouting distance and shared the dock, but were surrounded by enough trees and brush that privacy wasn’t usually an issue. If she wanted company, there was public beach access a mile down the dirt road. But she needed solitude, and she was thankful that she had it.
The sound of a car door slamming brought Allaya back to present day. Sitting up and squinting her eyes, she turned to see a familiar, beat-up old Chevy down at the next dock. There was Finn Meyers, pulling his bait box and fishing rod out of the bed of the truck. He glanced over at her and, after a minute, he waved. Stunned, she waved back and began to gather her things. It had been years since she’d seen him, and she wasn’t prepared for the flood of emotions and memories that coursed through her mind as she saw him and his truck. She took a deep breath and secured her towel around her chest.
“Hey, Ally! I heard you were up here. Wasn’t sure if I’d run into you or not,” he called out to her. She grabbed the rock, shoved it deep into her bag and started to walk down the dock toward the truck.
“Hi, Finnigan,” she called. He hated his full name. She’d often called him by it, having made it her goal to irritate him endlessly. Finn’s parents had been the owners of the only grocery store in the small town thirty minutes south of Allaya’s family’s cabin, as well as caretakers for many of the properties on the lake during the off-season. His family had been around for as many years as Allaya’s family had owned their cabin. Only Finn’s mother remained now. Mr. Meyers had passed away when they were teens, from lung cancer. For a few weeks every summer, Finn had become one of the girls’ best friends, and, as the years went on, his status changed from friend to crush to non-entity and then back to friend. Each of the three girls had had her secret crush on him, but he was, as were most boys, oblivious. He and Shara were caught kissing once, and that was the first time he’d shown interest for any of the girls in that way. Shara and Finn had been so scared by the lectures they’d received, though, that Allaya had wondered if her sister would ever dare kiss another boy again.
He rolled his eyes at the sound of his full name. “So, school starts next week doesn’t it? How long are you here?” He pulled her into an awkward hug.
She froze at his touch. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been hugged. Pulling away quickly, she fidgeted with the sunscreen in her hand. “Yeah, I‘m just here through the weekend.”
“Last minute escape?”
She shrugged and looked the other way. “Something like that. What about you? What are you doing here?”
He gazed at her curiously. “I’m helping my mom take care of the last of the summer merchandise and winterize some of the cabins. But right now I am going fishing. Would you like to join me?” He pointed to a second rod in the truck bed.
“What?” she looked back at him quickly. “Oh, no thanks, I’ve already been out here for awhile; I should probably get out of the sun.”
Finn turned his head to look at the water and said, “Oh, okay. Maybe another day.”
“Have fun, though. I’ll see you around,” she said dismissively, turning toward the cabin.
“Yeah, I’ll see you around.” He repeated her words and watched her walk away, lingering a little longer than was polite before turning back to his truck to unload his canoe. Her honey-brown hair radiated in the sunlight, and he had to physically shake his head in order to remember what he had set out to do in the first place. He picked up his whistling where he’d left off before the sight of Allaya on the dock had caused him to stop short, grabbed his fishing tackle, and then with a few hopeful glances towards the Sheldon’s cabin, he sighed and proceeded to the small motor boat that was tied to the dock.
So now at the very least, you have an explanation behind the title, and hopefully some curiosity about what is to come from this seemingly ill-timed reconnection with a friend from the past. I wanted to share more, but the rest has not been edited yet, and I didn’t want to give too much away 🙂 Please remember that you can donate and help me promote this project on my campaign site: www.indiegogo.com/stones-of-remembrance . I need all the help I can get! Thank you!