by Louise Dragon
The acorn-like rock first appeared on Mother’s Day; Tina vaguely remembers this, although not sure about the significance . . .
Tina Marshall drives the same route every day. Back roads so that she can speed and not have to worry about patrolling state police cars. Thirty miles to work her job as a pediatric med tech at Haden General Hospital every day and then thirty miles back home; the same route, day in and day out. The familiar scenery passes her by each day like a well-known movie set.
Although a Sunday, Mother’s Day holds no unusual significance for Tina. People working in the medical profession work Sundays, holidays, and weekdays with little notice in their minds. Tina has no children -- she’s been divorced for seven years. Her job is her life – she’s good at it and likes to think that she makes a difference in the lives of her tiny patients.
The acorn-like rock first appeared in a grassy field midway to the hospital. The rock jutted from the field like it had fallen from some huge tree. It was the color of redwood and its cap bristled with feathery spines reminding Tina of a modified Beatles haircut. The rock was much larger than a standard acorn also. It was about the size of a basketball. She sped by without much concern for the new landscape blemish.
That rock often drew Tina’s attention as she traveled her accustomed route. It seemed to grow and swell each day. It also seemed to be moving closer to the road.
“Your overactive imagination will get you in trouble one day.” The voice of Tina’s dead mother droned in her mind. Tina shook the voice from her head and kept driving.
Of course it’s my imagination, she scoffed to herself.
Rocks don’t grow.
Rocks don’t move either!
But the next day the rock seemed even closer and larger than when Tina had first seen it. It seemed to visibly swell and bulge with a pulse not unlike that of a heartbeat.
The thought of a heartbeat and Tina’s foot hit the brake. The car shuddered to a halt. Tina grabbed a wooden windshield brush from the seat beside her and approached the rock, which now sat on the grassy lip of the back road.
Tina glanced in both directions, but she knew there was very little traffic on this road – it was one of the reasons why she enjoyed traveling on it.
The acorn-like rock pulsed and twitched before her like a giant cocoon. As she drew nearer, Tina picked up a faint lemony peppermint smell that was neither pleasant nor unpleasant. When she stopped about three feet from the rock and squatted to get a closer look, the bottom of the rock split open like a grinning mouth and a woody looking tentacle shot out and wrapped around Tina’s left ankle. She screamed and fell backward pounding on the tentacle with her brush like a mad woman. As abruptly as it had happened, the tentacle retreated back into the rock, the rock closed about it and proceeded to look like a normal rock again.
Tina scrambled frantically backwards rubbing her offended ankle. There were a few tiny puncture marks and scratches, but otherwise she was unharmed. She went to work and tried to forget the incident, but the slimy feel of that tentacle on her ankle had ingrained itself upon her mind like a horrible tattoo.
Tina continued to drive by the acorn rock each day but it seemed to have stopped moving and growing – either that or her imagination had stopped inventing problems that were not there.
Then came the day of the hailstorm. It had been a beautiful sunny summer day when abruptly the sky turned dark gray and the town of Haden was subjected to a thunderous whopper of a hailstorm.
The Hospital became overloaded with storm victims and Tina stayed to work a double shift to help out. Midnight was fast approaching by the time she placed her weary body behind the wheel and headed home.
Tina was so tired she had forgotten all about the acorn rock – which would not be visible at night in any case. There was a full moon, however, and the wind had picked up to blow the clouds away. As Tina’s car approached the field with the acorn rock, she noticed a soft pink glow where the rock should be. The glow was reminiscent of trying to hold a flashlight beam in your hand.
Slightly punchy from her tiring day, Tina pulled over without thinking. Something nudged her mind toward the rock. She felt a tugging, pulling sensation in her brain that made her WANT to see the rock. She felt an instinct to touch the rock, to caress its smooth surfaces. Tina felt a growing kinship for the rock that was closer than those relationships she had with her patients.
As Tina pondered this new feeling inside her, the acorn rock once again split open and the tentacle slid quietly out. It did not grasp this time, but merely caressed her ankle with a soothing touch. The remainder of the acorn rock split completely open to reveal a naked infant girl with beautiful coal black eyes and a silky redwood colored Beatles hairdo.
Tina picked up the soft cooing infant smelling of lemon and peppermints and cradled her. She was unmindful of the tiny little tentacles that appeared and caressed her hands and arms from time to time. She also didn’t mind the new whispery voice in her head.
“Take care of me. I’m your little girl now.”
Author's Note: This story was inspired by an original drawing glimpsed on the pages of a blog belonging to my good friend Susan Mordigal, Artistic Illustrator. Her Blog is entitled Susan Beth Studio and her drawing is entitled: Acorn, Sunday Sketches IF Cocoon. Let me point out that Susan is in no way responsible for the horror that blossomed in my mind from her beautiful sketch. I hope you enjoy my Mother’s Day story. lm
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