Flash Memoir: Conversations with Rocks

There is a desired solitude one can find up on the mountain side. A place for contemplation, reflection, and…


Thud… Thud… Thud. 

The rock eventually stopped rolling down the side of the mountain when it found its way to the bottom of a giant, wide ditch, an unfinished or forgotten project. I had just spent five laborious minutes on hands and knees, digging it out of the ground when it came loose and decided it wanted no part in becoming reinforcement for a fence.

In the distance, the church bell chimed the time, the vibrations echoing off the granite mountain sides and settling again on the rooftops of all 385 inhabitants. Time for lunch; time to let the cattle out; time to leave for the train station.

Thud… Thud… Thud.

“Wait, what?? How is that happening?! FUCK! What the… FUCK!

My pile of large rocks, seemingly secure against the unnaturally strong gravitational force up here on the mountain, began to shift, and two of my largest rocks rolled down the side of the mountain.


All I could do was stand there and watched them disappear.

I wondered if my bones would make the same sound.

“You know?? That is just fucking RUDE. Ok?? I don’t want to be here any longer than I have to… I…”

My voice was high and agitated, disconnected from my body. I realized I was on the verge of an anxiety attack, and that  I was complaining to a pile of rocks. A disinterested cow in the next field looked up momentarily then continued on with its chewing.

“I’m loosing my mind. I’m loosing my mind.” I let out a shuddering sigh and sat down on the dry earth. A roll of thunder churned in my gut, ascending to my throat and escaped my mouth without dignity.

I wept.

I cried, and screamed, and wailed and whimpered. I sat there with my head in between my knees until there was nothing left to come out. Nothing left behind my eyes and an emptiness in my chest.

There is a lot of clutter that a person can hold onto emotionally, and not even know it, until it is awakened by a seemingly unrelated event. In my case, it was the laborious act of moving rocks up the side of a mountain by myself… I mean, jesus, could there be a more cliche metaphor?? I didn’t choose to have this emotional exorcism on the side of this mountain, but apparently it was time.

I took a few deep breaths and looked up to the sky, I was momentarily mesmerized by several birds of prey, circling endlessly searching for a prize I could not detect.

Still seated in the dirt, I looked over at my dwindling pile of rocks, “Fuck you, rocks. Please stop rolling down the hill. Please. I need to do this and I need to finish it today… Alright?”

My face was tight and itchy from the sun and dried tears, my dusty clothes spotted with sweat.

I closed my eyes for one moment, then stood up quickly with a new found sense of determination and urgency to get the fence completed by the end of the day. I swallowed long and slow from my water bottle and thought,

Just four rocks. Just four big rocks at a time. That, I can do.

My task now took on a small and orderly procession: find and recover four (and only four) huge rocks; ensure they do not roll down the side of the mountain; carry each rock, one by one, up the incline to the fence and drop it in the ditch; repeat.

Four– that is a small number when handling large things. I can see progress when I am moving four rocks up a hill. My pile empties quickly with only four rocks, and it is uncomplicated to put four more in their place.

I set to the task and my thoughts devolve to nothing more than– watch your step, lift with your legs, drink water… an appreciated banality from the usual chaos in my head.

With much cursing and panting and resolve, I finished the fence. I walked over and picked up the tools and gloves I had abandoned earlier in the day when it was determined that bare hands and brawn where all that were needed to rip rocks from the ground.

I looked at the work I had accomplished that day and smiled to myself, Oknot bad, not bad.

I unceremoniously flipped-off the fence and the rocks, then turned my back and slowly walked up the hill towards the house.




2 thoughts on “Flash Memoir: Conversations with Rocks

  1. I feel for you, Emily. It can be really difficult traveling/living abroad especially when doing work one isn’t really inclined towards. I am sure moving rocks was not something you imagined doing when you signed up for Workaway! It can all get to be overwhelming. Screaming at rocks is probably as good a way of venting as any other. Perhaps I am viewing your experience through the lens of my own. Some days are fabulous and some are really rotten. Not sure if you have other English speakers around. One of the things I found most difficult in our early years living part-time in Italy was no coterie of girlfriends around for support. It can be an awfully lonely existence. I sincerely hope we have a chance to meet up in Italy in December. 🙂

Leave comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.