My mother had a Mason jar, given to her by her mother, to be used for happy memories. When I was a child, she took out the shells she’d collected when she was a young girl and handed me the jar.
‘Susie, I want you to have this now. Then, anytime you feel sad, you can look at the jar and think of a happy memory, just like I did.’
I decided to fill the jar with pebbles. In my childhood years, the empty glass jar became layered with pebbles from beach vacations, or treks in the woodlands. Spotted slate, Quartz breccia, Granite, Schist, Jasper and Serpentine. I loved the deep red of the Jasper best.
I was shocked when he first slapped me. I thought it was my fault. I took the jar down and removed a pebble. It was like a happy memory had been erased. When he apologized the next day, I put the pebble back in place, chastising myself for being so melodramatic. But when the pattern was repeated, again and again, and I realized how hollow his apologies were, I stopped. From now on, I would only be taking the pebbles out. I made a vow to myself, that when the last pebble is gone, I would leave.
Six spotted slate.
Five yellow and black Quartz.
Four red and gray Serpentine.
Three rough brown Schist.
Two speckled Granite.
The jar and I were both emptying. Emptying of emotion. Emptying of love. Emptying of happiness. I took out the Jasper pebble and stroked it with my fingers. I smoothed it over my cheek; its coolness eased the sting of his hand. I could still hear him ranting in the kitchen. I placed it on my bedside table and looked at the empty jar. The very last one. The very last time.
About the Author: Sharon Kretschmer plays at being a school librarian during the day and writer by night. She has a BA in Creative Writing and Graduate Diploma in Museum Studies, illustrating her love of all things old. Her work has appeared in several anthologies, the most recent being A Flash of Brilliance, as well as several stories for children in The New South Wales School magazines. She lives and works in Adelaide, South Australia.