The deep, grainy gray of the water was impenetrable. He couldn’t see through it. Even his own reflection was lost in the waters. It was so corrupting that even the suns hews seemed to dim. And it was still. Not still like the silence of an empty room, or the long abandoned trees of the forest. It was still like a panther tracking its prey. Waiting for the right moment. Of course, the boy never noticed this. He was too busy looking for sticks to satisfy his curiosity.
What was below the thick layers? How deep could it be? The lake was big, but not enormous. Maybe 50 feet in diameter? He wasn’t a very good judge of distance. It couldn’t be more than a few feet deep…could it? He finally found what he’d been looking for: a wiry stick, thin and elastic like the antenna of his dad’s Chevrolet. It swayed back and forth as he toddled back to the banks, stepping through the once green reeds, dulled to resemble the water they no doubt fed off of.
He kicked off his shoes and bunched his socks up inside to keep them dry, despite their brown stains from his adventures that day. The bank was cold. And muddy. Not the pleasant kind of mud that he played with at home. It felt like a sticky wet sandpaper, with rocks finding their way between his toes as he walked. Each step toward the water was accompanied by a gross SCHLOP sound. He looked back at the water, tantalized by it’s mystery. He paused. What if there were monsters? His eyes grew wide and he stopped in his tracks. He heard his dad’s voice, though there was nobody around for miles. You’ll be fine. He glanced around. The sun was hanging low, on it’s way home from another day at work. He wondered what it was like when the sun got home? Was he always on edge? His dad used to always be on edge. His face would scrunch up like a he’d stepped on a tack at the littlest sound that was out of place. A cup knocking over. A book closing too hard. The pitter-patter of his older brother trying to sneak back into the house like nobody had heard him. We always heard him.
He felt the water pour over his feet as he stepped in the lake. It was deceptively smooth compared to the mud he had just trudged through. The ripples from his feet water broke the silence of the waters for a moment. It looked like the strings of his uncle’s harp when he played with them. Back and forth and back and forth. He put his stick out, unintentionally breaking the water a few times as it swayed up and down with his momentum. He held it above the water until it was still. Then he touched the tip down, making a perfect circle diffuse outwards. He smiled. He stuck the stick in deeper, fishing around for whatever he could. He pulled the stick out, wide eyed in anticipation. Nothing. He tried again. There was some resistance this time. Monsters.
He froze for a moment. Then slowly he pulled back on the stick. It looked like a serpent, smooth and silent. Then on the end of the stick was his fear. A little plastic grocery bag. It probably used to be white. The water pouring out of it broke the silence. He pulled the bag off, tearing it on the knobby parts of the stick. Why was it there?
Happy Earth day everyone! Make sure you are cleaning up after yourselves!