“Rocks” by Elena L. Perez

  • Obsidian, black, but when held up to light it is semi-transparent. Also known as Apache Tears. Roughly circular in shape, about half an inch by half an inch. Received by Harriette from her grama. This was one of Harriette’s first rocks.
  • Tan with black rosettes, similar to a leopard skin. Roughly triangular in shape, about one inch long by half an inch wide, polished. Obtained in Utah in a souvenir shop.  Harriette liked it because its markings were so neat and perfect, almost as if they had been painted.  Her parents bought her brother, Alex, and her sister, Sadie, leopard rocks too.
  • Horizontally striped in tan, brown, and light orange. Roughly rectangular in shape, about two inches long and three-quarters of an inch wide, polished on one side. Obtained in the gift shop at the Petrified Forest in Arizona.  Harriette asked her parents to buy it for her because she had been fascinated with all the huge petrified trees outside and because the guide had said that it was against the law to pick up pieces of petrified wood from the ground.  (She listened to him because she didn’t want to go to jail.)  Her piece of petrified tree even came in a box with a small square of cotton on the bottom to cushion it and keep it from getting scratched. Harriette displayed it on her bookshelf at home reverently.
  • Light gray with small pock marks. Round, about four inches in diameter. Obtained at the park. Harriette and Sadie found it under the jungle gym in the sand.  They liked it because it fit perfectly in their hands.  Very nice, their mother said when they showed it to her.  At home, they added it to their rock family, making it the sister to another, similar gray rock.
  • Sea-foam green with a single white quartz stripe running down the middle. Roughly square in shape, about a three-quarter inch by a three-quarter inch. Obtained at the beach (though Harriette wasn’t entirely sure which beach, there were so many) at her brother Alex’s birthday party.  She was making a sand castle with her sister Sadie, Alex, her friend Martin, and her cousins and when she went to get some wet sand, she saw it glittering prettily underneath the water.  She grabbed it before it got washed away with the tide and ran to her family’s canopy to put it in the Ziplock bag she had brought specially for that purpose.  Don’t bring home too many this time, her mother said when Harriette showed it to her.
  • Flat and blue. Oval, about three inches long, one and a half inches wide. Received by Harriette from her best friend, Martin.  He had found it at school in the sand and shown it to her proudly.  It’s cool! said Harriette.  I’ve never had a flat rock before.
  • Light pink rose quartz with white horizontal streaks and the top right corner pure white quartz. Roughly rectangular, about one and a half inches long, three-quarter inches wide, polished. Obtained at the county fair in the Rocks and Minerals shop. Harriette liked it because it was pretty.  Do you really need this? her parents asked.  You have a very nice rock collection already.  But Harriette insisted, so her parents gave in.  I want one too, her sister Sadie said.
  • Pyrite, gold. Roughly round lump of crystals, about one inch in diameter. Obtained at a minerals shop that Harriette saw on the way home from her aunt’s house.  Can we stop there, please? Harriette asked her father.  I’ve got to get home, her father said.  But I’ll be really fast, Harriette assured him.  Her father sighed loudly and drove into the parking lot, telling Harriette that she had five minutes or she would be left.  Racing in, she spent most of those five minutes admiring the fool’s gold in the front display, surprised, when she picked a piece up, that it was heavier than it looked.  She got back to the car and showed it to her father.  Nice, he said, but why do you keep wasting your money on rocks?  Harriette sighed.
  • Midnight blue with small white veins running through its entirety. Oval, about two inches long and one inch wide, polished. Obtained at the Black Forest Minerals store.  When Harriette found it she knew she just had to have it because it reminded her of Saphira-the-dragon’s egg as it was described in one of her favorite books, Eragon.  Digging in her pocket (since she knew her mother wouldn’t buy it for her) for the dollar and twenty-five cents that the rock cost, she approached the counter, excited at her find.  Her mother yelled for her to hurry up otherwise they would leave without her and that she better not be getting any more rocks because she had enough already.  Harriette thought, maybe they’re right and buying rocks is just a waste of money.   She hesitated then told herself this would be the last rock she ever bought.
  • Pinkish-purple with pock marks. Oval, about four inches long and two inches wide. Obtained who knows where, Harriette’s had it so long.  She used to play with it outside with Sadie and pretend that it was the mother rock to the numerous smaller rocks they had that looked just like it.  She was so immature back then.  Harriette didn’t know why she still kept these around. Maybe she should just throw them away. A knock on the door; Martin was here. She put down the rock and invited him in.  You still collect those? he asked when he saw the box on her desk.  I used to, she replied, but not anymore.  Why? he asked.  Because it’s childish, Harriette replied.
  • Gray with white specks and small pock marks. Roughly oval, about one and a half inches in diameter. Obtained in the parking lot at Harriette’s office. Harriette didn’t know why she had picked it up. It was just lying there in the grass on the traffic island next to her car. Lying there with it was a polished seashell. Both had clearly been bought from a store. Why were they there, just the two of them? Was someone cleaning out their office decorations? Harriette didn’t know, but they had just seemed so sad. Now the rock was tucked away in the glove compartment of her car. Safe, if not loved.
  • Tiger’s eye, burnt orange with black streaks. Triangular, about three-quarters of an inch long, half an inch wide, polished. Obtained at the county fair in the Rocks and Minerals shop.  Given to Harriette by Martin.  Why are we going in here? Harriette asked. I don’t collect rocks anymore. I want you to have this, he told her. Please keep it? For me? Fine, said Harriette, and though she didn’t want to admit it to herself, inside she glowed. She had always wanted a Tiger’s eye. Gently, she tucked the stone in her pocket, and kept a hand on it all night to keep it safe.
  • Various stones, multi-colored. Oval, each less than a quarter inch long. Wrapped individually in wire to form the leaves of a small tree. Harriette saw it in a gift shop at the mall and thought it was pretty. She bought it on an impulse, telling herself that it wasn’t a rock, it was a tree that happened to be made out of colorful pebbles. She put it on her kitchen windowsill and smiled whenever she saw it.
  • Diamond, clear. Round, less than a quarter inch, one carat. Given to Harriette by Martin. They were walking in the park and had stopped to watch the ducks in the lake when he turned to her and knelt on one knee in front of her. I know you say collecting rocks is childish, he said. But I think you’re letting other people get to you. It’s part of who you are, and I think it’s awesome. Just like you.


Elena L. Perez is a book lover by day, theater geek by night, and has a relationship with filmmaking on the side.  She studied writing at UC Riverside where she was an editor for the Mosaic Art and Literary Journal, and she was the 2013-14 Managing Editor of the Calliope Art & Literary Magazine at Chapman University.  Other than writing, Elena likes spending time with her pets (a cockatiel and two dachshunds) and photographing nature.  Other things she likes are: fruit pies, NASA, dragons, Kandinsky, and puns.

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