I was studying the gradations of a pebble’s reluctance. I really was. It’s a difficult subject. Then I remembered the taste left in my mouth by your mouth. How surprisingly dry it was. I couldn’t forget that.

I thought about where pebbles came from and I decided they must have broken off of larger rocks and just sort of rolled around real slowly, getting bumped and jostled a lot so you couldn’t notice it much at any one time and it rubbed all the sharper parts off.  (The way some of my friends might lose some of their annoying edges if they had more time for me.)

Which means parent rocks are really almost everywhere. So I listened hard and thought I could hear them grunting with the effort to hold still, to live longer, not break off their parts and create children too quickly, a kind of restrained music of gradual failures, like ours, which keeps them reproducing.

It was, I realized, an unendurable beauty. I mean I had to quit listening or something terrible was going to happen. A weeping motorcycle of captivating pain was how I grew to think about it because it seemed like birth ought to hurt in a moving sort of way and that really should take you somewhere.

Then I remembered your mouth again.

Then I saw the hooded figures with crude weapons on their crude shoulders acting crudely. And I didn’t feel like running away from them.

Then I had an epiphany and I understood God is the greatest thief of all.

I learned all that from one pebble, but I don’t think I quite believed it. I don’t think I believed it at all.

I remained unmistakably reluctant. I was still living for the first time while pebble after pebble parted from larger participations and offered a possibility of redemption that I still thought looked an awful lot like rebirth.

Then I remembered the taste of your mouth in my mouth. That’s what I understood. And I understood how this thing was more than one thing and I went there and tried to stay. Because of the thirst. Because of all the careful thirst.