I stared at my shoes as I walked to the 6th grade door. I sighed, and pushed some of my long, dark brown hair out of my face. It was a Monday, and on Saturday, the worst thing ha happened. My parakeet Willow died. Willow was my best friend; she was always there to cheer me up when I was sad, play when I was bored, or simply make me smile. She also had the prettiest feathers that were in beautiful shades of blue. My eyes watered at the thought. I took a deep breath and tried to focus on something else, but almost everything reminded me of Willow. The black birds in the gray sky were birds, like Willow. Hearing the chirping birds in the trees didn’t help either, and a thought came to mind: How could everything be as normal as last Monday for everyone else, when everything was so different for me?
I was shifting the weight of my backpack when I heard tennis shoes pounding the pavement behind me. Soon, I realized it was Ivy, who was always quiet and thoughtful. She always wore her leaf-green Nikes, and her shiny brown hair was always neatly pulled back into a braid. She caught up to me, and walked beside me, on my right. She turned and looked at me, her head cocked, and her chocolate eyes studying me. I pressed my lips together and turned away.
“You’re sad, Rachel. Why?” she asked, startling me.
“My bird died,” I said, voice shaking.
I had surprised myself by answering. Ivy looked like she was thinking about something. I pushed away my thoughts and looked at my shoes. Soon, she came to an abrupt stop, and reached into her pocket. She cocked her head again to look at me, her right hand forming a fist around the object from her pocket. Then, she took my left hand in her right, and pressed a small, smooth stone into my palm. She looked into my eyes and gave a small, kind smile before walking on.
Surprisingly, Ivy’s stone helped me feel better about Willow. Just feeling the hard stone in my hand calmed me. After a few days, I realized that I have lots of good memories of Willow, even though she’s not around anymore.
About two weeks after Ivy gave me the stone, on a Saturday, I was taking my golden retriever, Lucy, for a walk, when I came across Mrs. Hernandez. Her children are all grown up, so now she lives with her husband and cat. She was sitting on her porch chair, her orange cat in her lap. Then I noticed that she had a sorrowful look on her face. I wondered what was wrong, and I thought of Ivy, and her stone in my pocket. So, I walked up to Mrs. Hernandez and asked her what was wrong.
“Kind girl, so thoughtful of you to ask. My husband passed away two weeks ago,” she replied, her eyes filling with tears.
I sighed. “I’m so sorry,” I said, thinking about Willow.
She shook her head.
As I shifted my weight, I felt the stone shift in my pocket. I thought about how Ivy had noticed I was sad, and she wanted to make me feel better. Much of what had helped me feel better was simply Ivy’s kind gesture. I made my decision to act. I switched Lucy’s leash to my left hand, then reached into my pocket with my right. I pressed my fist around the stone, and looked into Mrs. Hernandez’s eyes. I pressed the stone into her palm, holding on for just a moment, and gave a small, kind smile. Then I walked back to the sidewalk. Once there, I looked back to see Mrs. Hernandez smiling, and I wondered if someone had given the stone to Ivy when she had been sad.