empty pockets

She dreamt that night. She dreamt of beautiful, formless things - vaporous thoughts that gathered tangibles as they spun: scraps of paper, bits of fur, twigs and string - the makings of a new home.

When she woke, she stretched and rose from her bed. She pushed open the window, ready to greet the day, and saw, there on the sill, a pebble. It was smooth and white, flecked with bits of blue. She had no idea how or why it came to be there, but it was pretty, so she put it in her pocket.

Throughout the day, she reached into her pocket to make sure it was still there. It was a small thing, but it gave her pleasure, to roll it between her fingers and know it was hers. That night, when she undressed for bed, she left it in her pocket. She wanted to carry it with her the next day. Then she went to sleep, thinking of her curious, mysterious gift.

Her dream that night was more vivid. Darker. She turned and murmured in her sleep, dreaming of wind. It carried more things to the nest, things she needed - but it carried some other things off with it, too.

In the morning, another pebble sat on her windowsill. Bigger than the first, and solid blue - the color of the sky just before sunrise splits the horizon. Again, she didn't know how or why it was there. Again, she took it and placed it in her pocket, where it clinked against the other. She heard them clicking in her pocket together all day, those two stones. Like two thoughts. Two possibilities. Two outcomes.

And so it went. Every night she dreamt of something growing, changing, and every morning she awoke to a stone outside her window. Some were larger than others. Some were rich in color, and some plain. One by one, she added them to her pocket. She started to notice their weight as she walked. She could feel them against her leg, sometimes comforting - but sometimes distracting, too. She could hear them jostling together with each step she took. She dug her fingers deep into her pocket and gathered them into a handful. But she didn't take them out, and she didn't show them to anyone.

Then, one day, she woke up and there wasn't a pebble on her windowsill. She looked around, wondering why. Maybe tomorrow, she thought, strangely disappointed.

But the next morning, again there was no stone. When she opened her window, there was only the sun and sky and a breeze that teased her hair. She inhaled deeply, lifting her face to the warm light. There were no more stones, but there was still everything she needed, right outside, waiting for her. She knew the trees, the grass, the birdsong - were gifts enough.

She kept the pebbles she'd collected. But when she chose her clothes for the day, she wore a different dress, with empty pockets.

She wanted to have room for anything new she found - or that found her.