Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ripple Effect

He ran down the hill to the pond, the only place he could think of where he could cool down without hurting anyone.
“Stupid people, I hate them,” he muttered angrily, spewing swear words as he stumbled over the loose gravel that cluttered the steep incline. Not paying particular attention to where he was going, the boy fell. His momentum carried him over and over, acquiring him new scrapes and bruises.
He broke free of the fall with a determined vengeance, forcing his body off the ground and stomping over to the edge of the pond. Its cool, unwavering surface seemed to mock the inner torment that was taking over his ability to act rationally. Spying a kitten-sized rock, he seized it eagerly and put all his strength into hurling as far out into the water as he could, to vainly attempt to break its serenity.
The thrown rock hurtled far out over the water, silently arcing through the sky to poke a clean hole in the still surface. At once, the water was thrown into motion. The boy watched from the bank with a grim satisfaction. He had the manner of a man watching the execution of one who had personally wronged him.
Unbeknownst to him, the water wasn’t the only thing in motion. Something beneath the surface was hit and bleeding. For a moment, it struggled, trying to rise above. Then, defeated, it sunk down, down down…
On the shore, the boy felt a sense of release. He breathed slowly through his nose and out through his mouth, calming his frayed nerves with the exercise he had been taught. To his surprise, it actually worked. Rage subsided, he trudged back up the hill.
In the lake, the water was turning an ugly brown. The sinking creature had caused a disturbance in the water with the spasmodic thrashing of its limbs stirring up the sediments of the silty pond floor. All of a sudden, a silver gleam interrupted the murky water, the indication of a shiny object lodged in the mud. Apparently, something valuable had been thrown into the pond long ago. Further motion dislodged it and floated it to the surface.
The object floated slowly across the pond for several hours until reaching the stream that fed out of it. Spinning slightly in the more turbulent waters, the object was carried along for miles as the stream widened out into a full-fledged river.
An old fisherman farther up the stream suddenly felt a good-sized tug on one of his nets. Excited at a big catch after a very unlucky day, he struggled briefly with the net, wincing, and became immediately puzzled. With his right hand he gingerly dug a slightly dulling silver disc from the depths of his net.
“What the heck is this?” he wondered aloud, calling his buddy over. “Got some words on it, but I can’t make ‘em out with these old eyes anymore.”
The younger man squinted at the letters carved in the metal, scratching at the tarnish. “Somethin’ ‘bout a cat or somethin’, I dunno.”
“No, you idiot, it says Catherine. Catherine Gr- Gra-”
“Catherine Gr-Gra? Speak clearly, boy!”
“Give me a minute, old man! It says Graham, Catherine Graham.”
“So this is the bracelet old Cathy Graham lost all those years ago, the one her sweetheart gave to her.”
“She dropped it in the river? “
“No, you fool, of course not! It’s custom-made, and it sure cost the man a pretty penny.”
“Then how did it end up in our hands, with a dead otter in tow?”
The old fisherman shrugged, turning the bracelet over in his hands. “They say Cathy went berserk after she found out he died in the war, leavin’ her with two little kids of her own an’ all.

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