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Ripples In The Pond MAG
"Casey, get back here," I screamed as I saw her disappear around thecorner. I scrambled after her. Coming up to her closed bedroom door, I knocked,then opened it. I found her cowering under the bed.
"What is wrongwith you?" I asked, staring at my five-year-old sister. Extremely precociousand with clear speech, she said, "Joe isn't feeling well." She hadtears running down her cheeks.
I turned and started walking down thehallway. "How can you tell that? It's a fish!"
I paused in frontof the kitchen window. Why bother? I thought. This is probably a product of heroveractive imagination. Shaking my head, I thought, I'll humor her. I pushed openthe door.
Walking quickly over to the cylindrical aquarium which was thehome of Joe, Casey's goldfish, I saw this was no figment of Casey's imagination.I sighed and trudged back to Casey's room.
"Casey, Joe's not feelingbad. He's dead. He's floating bellyside up in the tank," I saidcalmly.
"Maybe he learned a new trick?" Casey askedhopefully.
I shook my head.
"I'm sorry, Casey. It was bound tohappen. I mean, most goldfish don't live five years like Joe did," I saidgently.
"I didn't know he lived five years," Casey said."He was my age. That means I'm going to die soon,too."
"No, no, Casey, humans live longer than that! You're goingto live for a long time. Goldfish don't live very long. Joe was an old fish," I said tiredly. Why do these things always have to happen when I'mbaby-sitting? I asked myself.
Casey looked at me angrily. "That's nottrue! Joe's not dead! He's not! You're lying! Liar, liar!" She got up andran out the door.
"Casey, stop!" I screamed. I heard the frontdoor slam. Oh, great! She ran out of the apartment. I couldn't just run afterher. She was much faster than me.
"Hmm, if I were Casey, where wouldI go?" I thought outloud. Suddenly, I knew. I grabbed my coat and ran outthe door.
The bitter cold nipped at my cheeks as I emerged from theapartment building. I walked slowly and steadily down the road.
HalseyPond lay right beyond the woods. It was a beautiful place, and a place whereCasey often found solace. I was sure that she would go there.
I came tothe end of the road and entered the woods. I looked around me. Above the barelimbs of trees, a steel gray sky with dark clouds emerged. I looked ahead,searching for the hidden path markers. I knew the path well. There were manytwists and turns along the rocky path. When I approached the huge stone thatlooked like a turtle head, I turned left. If I went straight ahead, it would haveled me to the main pond, but there was a hidden waterfall, then a pond, then acreek to the left. Casey went there. She showed me it when she was four, and Ivowed to keep it a secret.
I pushed through the brush and there she was,kneeling next to the pond, weeping. She sensed my presence, and looked up. Hersmall, tear-stained face was so innocent. Precocious though she was, she had yetto learn about the inevitable thing that happens to us all: death. I sighed. Itwould not be easy, but eventually she must learn, and it might as well be now. Iwent and sat on the coarse grass beside Casey.
"Casey, there'ssomething I want to tell you, and I know you're not going to like it," Isaid softly.
"Joe's dead, Casey. He's dead, and it's true you aregoing to die too, Casey. But not yet, and not for a very long time. I know youmight not think it's true, but it is, and I know you know I'm not lying." Ilooked up at her. Her small body was trembling. She looked down at the water. Asingle teardrop fell, and it made the smallest ripples in the pond. She caughtsight of a fish near her in the pond, and she made a grab for it. I grabbed herhands.
"No, Casey, not yet. I know you want to replace Joe, but youcan't, and you never will. Oh, sure, you'll get a new fish in time, but it stillwon't be Joe. C'mon, let's go home."
I pulled Casey to her feet andgave her a huge hug and we started walking home.