Tiny garnet chips fall from my fingers in a stream, scattering into the rough grey gravel at my feet. Bouncing and pattering like raindrops, a final flash of deep red caught in the morning sunshine before they trickle into the crevices between the much larger stones and are gone. With them leaves a promise that already lies broken.
"Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again..." A promise that even under the worst outside conditions we would greet each other smiling and provide warm refuge from the storm. Or so I thought. I never got a chance to be the one offering refuge, and by taking the sanctuary she freely offered, when I needed it more than ever, I established myself as an inconvenience. A burden. Beloved sister no longer. Peace-breaker, troublemaker...an idiot backcountry cousin one has to tolerate because they're family, and anyway, the poor thing doesn't know any better.
The string that once held the stones had broken in the middle of the night, while I sat shivering and laughing amongst warm companions, all forgetting our woes sitting around a patio table in place of a camp fire, attempting to use our drinks and cigarette lighters to variously make us forget the cold, or warm up our fingertips. Suddenly I felt the thread give way on my wrist and some of the stones fell to the ground before I realized what had happened. I pulled them off their thread and left them in a little pool on the edge of the table, not knowing what else to do with them. I had almost completely forgotten the meaning emparted to them when first I wore them.
By morning I understood why it had felt so significant, and why I had preserved as many of them as I could, but with no intention of restringing them. I collected them in my palm, along with some dew from the table, and aimlessly walked around to the front of the house, where I spotted the patch of gravel in the driveway. It should have been a sad gesture: marking the loss of something that was once so important to me, but I felt lighter for shedding the reminder of it. Easier in my mind having accepted the truth.