the pond

There once was a girl who liked to visit a small, still pond in the wood. It was a quiet, lonely place where no one ever bothered her, and she could be alone with her thoughts.

The girl liked to stand at the edge of the water and peer down at her reflection. Sometimes she'd toss a pebble onto the glassy surface, and watch as it shattered the face that looked back up at her. The girl would wait until all the ripples had calmed and her likeness had composed itself. Then she'd drop another pebble, breaking the watery mirror into a thousand pieces all over again.

Every day she would visit the pond, and every day she'd throw stones at herself, fascinated by the way a quick flick of her wrist could splinter and smash what was so tranquil and serene a moment before. It didn't matter how smooth and tiny a pebble she used, or how big and jagged a rock - they all had the same disfiguring effect on the girl in the water.

One day, she leaned out over the pool, looking to find her reflection. But all she could see were the stones she'd been throwing, piled so high on top of one another that they nearly spilled out. She plunged her palms into the cold water, gathering up handfuls of them. She noticed how heavy they were, and she realized that if she wanted to start her game over again, it would be quite a lot of work to reverse her efforts. It would take just as long to empty the pond as it had taken to fill it up. Maybe even longer.

The girl didn't think she had the strength to do it. She looked around, feeling lost and unsure of how next to amuse herself.

Suddenly, she had an idea. The girl unlaced her shoes and peeled the stockings from her legs. Carefully she placed one foot into the cool of the pond, then another, feeling all her collected pebbles and stones packed firmly underneath. Step by step, the girl walked across the water that had held her double captive for so long. She marveled to think how much time she must have passed here, to have filled the water up so completely.

The girl reached the far side of the pond and stepped out, glad of the soft, dry grass beneath her once more. With her shoes and socks still slung over her shoulder, she headed into the unfamiliar woods that stretched out ahead.

She'd never been to this side of the pond before, and she was in the mood to explore.