Into the Muck
As his shoeless foot submerged, goosebumps ran up the teenage boy’s leg. Brown clouds swirled about his feet, spinning slowly in ever widening circles until dispersing elsewhere. Tiny hairs stood on end as the water licked his calves. Mud, slimy and thick, seeped through his toes and onto the top of his feet. The dense mud caused each step to exert slightly more force than the previous.
The teen was bent at the waist, his face inches from the still water’s surface. His eyes darted back and forth before he stepped again.
A crow cawed from its perch on a dying limb reaching across the pond. The sharp call of the bird startled the boy. He lifted his head towards it slowly, scowling for breaking his concentration. The crow mockingly cawed again.
With clenched teeth and furrowed brow he looked back towards the water. Every deliberate step disturbed the water more. Carefully scanning the murky water before him, he continued to trudge forward, leaving muddy clouds in his wake.
Two steps in front of him an odd color of flesh caught his eye. He saw the dainty plastic fingers reaching out from the mud, beckoning him for help. He slowly eased his hands into the water. With a finger he traced the outline of the head buried in the muck. The water grew dark from his disruptions of the sediment. Before it grew too cloudy he saw the doll’s face staring at him. A giant smile forever etched onto its mud-stained fair. Once blond hair matted a dark brown from its dirty home. No longer able to see the doll for the clouds of mud swirling about, he finished clearing the mud through touch alone.
The muscles in his back tightened violently as he stood up. As he waited for the water to clear, he saw the crow still staring at him silently. Their gazes locked while below the mud clouds began to once again settle.
Through clearing water he saw the doll, lying naked amongst the filth. One arm still reaching out to be helped. Hands trembling, he produced an identical doll from his back pocket. Tears welled up in his eyes as he reverently laid it beside its twin.
The crow cawed again, but the boy’s eyes were transfixed upon the two dolls, unclothed and scared beneath the water’s surface. Tears fell unashamedly from his cheeks, tiny ripples circled outward as they landed.
Only the crow heard him whisper to the water, “Happy birthday sis.”