“Worry Stone” by Bud Smith

Image by Caleb Caldwell / @calebacaldwell

By Saturday morning her left breast had turned to stone.

Grey slate with specks of mica.

I’m not surprised, the woman thought.

She called to her girlfriend out in the sunroom.

A record needle fell. A recording of a symphony began to play. And then the needle lifted, “What? Did you call me?”

“Oh nothing.” She closed her hardening eyes.

Her shoulder was jagged granite. The arm was this way too but luckily still hinged at the elbow.

The bed would need reinforcement soon. Blocks of wood propped in the space between floor and frame.

The girlfriend came in the room, and while she potted a cactus, the woman drilled a hole in the stone breast.

The girlfriend knew not to try to help. She joked, “Give me some pebbles for the soil. It’ll help this little guy thrive.”

The woman took it seriously and smiled, catching the dust and chips of stone that fell out of her as the drill worked. When the work was done, she dumped a handful’s worth into her girlfriend’s cupped hand and said, “Don’t say I never gave you anything.”

A hook was screwed into the new hole so she could tie the breast up, take some of the weight off herself.

The cactus was purple with orange dots and fine hairs that did not hurt.

When the symphony finished and the light was no longer coming through the window, they walked through the gardens around the house to feel the light and be in it. They had to move slow because there was mud and the grass was soft and both feet were blocks of stone now.

The girlfriend said, “Even at this pace we look so fast to the trees.”

The woman said, “Good, keep me grinning so my face looks this way forever.”

“Watch out for clay, you’ll get stuck and I’ll have to leave you here.”

“Like a statue.”

“Ha, a smiling statue though.

There was a tooth in the very back and it was platinum. Parts of the invisible body, no one could see. A section of spine, pure silver. But shhhhhhh. Don’t speak of it.

They walked to the railroad tracks where the train had once derailed and crashed into the mountain, leaving horrible grooves cut into the remaining rock wall.

Funny these things we’re tied to.

The woman put her pink hand to the scars dug into the stone and she said, “Imagine how that felt.”



Bud Smith is the author of the novels F250, Tollbooth, and I’m From Electric Peak. His writing has been at Hobart, Smokelong, Monkeybicycle, Wigleaf, The Rumpus, Vol. 1 Brooklyn. He lives in NYC and works heavy construction in NJ.