The Stream

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The stream rippled faintly. Another ripple, stronger this time. Then another. And another. Slowly, a hand emerged from the pristine flow, grasping a struggling, silvery minnow. The hand continued pulling upwards. Chains of rainbow hued seaweed, almost garish in its intensity of color, twisted free of all its connections, following the small creature out of the river. But suddenly, one small line of the plant slid back into the water. The stream rippled faintly. Another ripple followed, even lighter than the previous. The water stilled.


All sound suddenly ceased. Silence reigned, almost deafening in its intensity. Lydia, looking about for any signs of what could have caused the disturbance, found nothing. The garden was as serene as it ever was, with nothing, not even birdsong shattering the tranquility.

But something was subtly changed. She knew it. She could feel it. The lawn just beyond the garden path caught her eye. The grass grew tall, almost halfway to her knees. Had it always been like that? Had it always been so… so… untamed? In fact, looking into her memory, Lydia could remember contradictory reports from just moments ago. She had the distinct impression that it had been somehow… different. Sighing, Lydia took a seat at a bench nearby, tracing the grain with her index finger, parting the veils of time with her mind.

There was something missing from her memory. She knew it. Looking back, she had always been the brightest in her class - from her humble beginnings in a Tallahassee primary school to her current status as an undergraduate at Stanford. Vaguely, the memory of acceptance letters swam before her eyes, a thrill traveled up her spine. She still remembered that day - it was... the happiest of her life. Cambridge had accepted her; her dreams were fulfilled: she longed to study in the halls that Maxwell and Milton and Newton had once frequented.

Then why did she choose Stanford? Lydia had no answer.

The garden was silent. Gray stones formed a makeshift path into the dark tunnel created by the overhanging canopies of the solemn oaks. Wildflowers dotted the soil below, their vibrant hues lending joy and splendor to the otherwise somber locale. Even though Lydia had no memory of this place, she knew that she could walk the path blindfolded. She felt intimately familiar with this garden, as if she had spent countless hours here, sharing secrets beneath the leaves of the sentinel oaks...

Sighing, Lydia slowly stood, leaving the bench. It was close to nightfall, and she has classes early the next morning. Whatever mystical hold this place had over her tonight, Lydia knew she would soon forget. As she ran her hand along the back of the bench for a final time, she felt something carved into the wood. Her eyes widened in surprise and recognition as she observed what her fingers traced. A letter. Two letters. Much more.

"Zach + Lydia," it read.

Suddenly, she knew why she chose to attend Stanford. She knew why -


The hand reached into the stream once more, plucking out the errant piece of seaweed as well as the minnow that had become entangled within it.


The garden was silent.





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