“The Stones” is a flash fiction by Richard Shelton. This story takes place in the reader’s mind as he or she imagines a presence in the desert. Here, one is supposed to watch the stones grow. These stones are the young stones. The ones that don’t grow here are the old stones. Young stones are used to represent young people who are just beginning their lives, and the old stones represent old people who have stopped living their lives and have become sedentary. ‘Stones’ is the key word in this passage because it refers to the idea that the old people will stop living their lives and will become sedentary. They take no adventures and sit there like stones. Also, the young stones are the young people who will live their lives but will eventually become stones like their elders.
In this piece of flash fiction, the young stones grow best in the desert. What is it about the desert that causes something to flourish? It is the lack of resources as deserts cannot sustain resources well. One of the most noticeable aspects about the desert is the lack of water. In this place, the young stones are more active and “grow better.” The reason for this is that the lack of water causes the young people to become more active as they search for places in which they can find water.
Young stones do their best to find out who they truly are and will do whatever to accomplish that goal. “Most young stones have a secret desire,” which is to find answers to life and the reason for their existence. These young people seek knowledge that will answer the questions they have about life. Overall, the kids want to experience change. Most of the young stones have a desire for water, which represents change and the fluidity of the knowledge they receive during their journey through life.
On the other hand, the old stones disapprove of this search for change because they have become scared of it and have forgotten the importance of the adventures taken to achieve change. Elders say, “Water is a gadfly who never stays in one place long enough to learn anything” (24). This quote is important because it shows the elders’ ignorance. Change has to be change else it won’t be able to provide the service of teaching people. If the old stones sit in a well forever, they sit staring up at the sky wishing to fly but never learning to do so.
The young stones decide that they want to experience a rush of a sizable stream of water that will catch them and take them away. This stream of water could possibly take these young stones anywhere, but they are willing to take the risk in order to experience the full effect of change that will lead them to self-discovery. After they find themselves, the young stones will settle down in a faraway place where they will become just like their elders, sedentary and stone-like. Scars become photographs on their bodies that remind the young stones of the adventures they once took that allowed them to live life to the fullest. But as they grow to become more like their parents, the young stones no longer brag about the changes they went through as they become comfortable with whom they are and how their lives are going, and they no longer want to experience change.
As the old stones become sedentary, fatness becomes a mark of distinction. It shows these people no longer want change and are content with life being the same way forever. They see change as something sinister. Then, at night when the young ones are asleep, the old stones look upon the moon. The moon always changes its shape in the night sky, and it whispers of the memories once shared by the elders. One of the oldest stones would be the moon, and it always changes itself as well as things on the earth. This oldest stone reminds the other old stones of the past where they were young and sought their own change. It whispers to them of the times when the old stones were truly happy taking various risks in life, and it urges the old stones to follow to once again live life.