BY: A.A. REDD
Recently, I was asked a question I couldn’t answer. Not for lack of trying; I did everything I could to try and push myself toward resolution, but every step I took felt rushed and wrong. An hours-long Google search eventually brought me to a website that sold these little bundles of herbs and gemstones that promised to realign my energies and “clarify my mind.” It was cheap, so I was suspicious—but I was also desperate.
When the package got to my house, it was too heavy to bring inside. I opened it on my porch and found out why: instead of a mixture of stones, there was a chunk of white quartz nearly as big as the box itself and a pound of uncut sage. The only other thing in the box was a note: To find the answer to your questions, you must take raw material and raw energy and combine them until they create something new.
I was at a loss—I can barely cut cake, let alone a gemstone. Going at it with a hacksaw didn’t work. Whacking it with sledgehammer didn’t dent it. I even dropped it off the roof of a four-story building a few times. It was also hit by a car (and I learned the hard way that insurance doesn’t cover quartz damage).
Still, even though I hadn’t an epiphany or an answer—and I now had two problems instead of one—I couldn’t give up. The sage and stone stayed on my doorstep while the question remained unanswered, no matter how many methods I revisited.
One night, I got so frustrated that I set the sage in a pile on top of the stone, lit it on fire...
And watched the whole thing melt into my porch.
It wasn’t quartz at all. In fact, I have no idea what it was, but it left a wide, translucent puddle over the red brick of my front porch. When the sun strikes it, it looks like a shimmering sheet of ice; in the moonlight, it looks more like a patch of algae. It’s slick to the touch, almost like marble, and it will not move. Except when it gets bigger. I feel a tremor when I’m near it, and I don’t step on it unless I have to. It seems to be vibrating gently and constantly in its place on the porch. (Or maybe it’s speaking.)
Whatever it’s doing—whatever it is—it still hasn’t helped me answer the question. And after all this, I wasn’t sure I could give a good answer.
So I came back to the question and wrote a story instead.