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The Language Of Water And Stones This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Tiny splashes of river waves upon the bank turn into murmurs and keep me awake. The hot air has ceased to bother me, even thickened and sluggishly blown through the window as the river makes it. I sit up in my bed to look out the window better, pushing off the cover I keep for security even in the summer. The small voices of the waves have been taken over by something louder and less constant, rising to a laughing loudness then falling to a barely audible whisper and giggle. My mind supplies a vivid picture of midnight swimmers in the cove upstream, laughing and talking as they swim from rock to rock.

With the window sill almost flush to the mattress, I hook my feet into the head board and lean ever so slightly out of the window, holding onto the rough shingles of the house with one hand and the sill with the other. The moon, hidden from my view by perspective, shines somewhere directly above the cove, reflecting and lighting the water a story below my window. It is the fleeting season after mosquitos and before flies, when it seems that the only insects flying with any force are dragonflies and lightning bugs. The little tree frogs, the peepers, are silent, but the crickets have not yet begun their song of sorrow and autumn. In this near silence, the laughter and conversation of the swimmers is even clearer to me. I feel lonely. The silence marks the halfway point of the summer, and I have not yet swum in the middle of the night, nor done anything so strange and beautiful.

A yard or so of lawn hangs on before the bank begins its steep descent to the water. Here there is nothing but wild grasses that look like wheat and rice. Two summers ago there were daisies, and the summer after that there were black-eyed susans. I remember looking down at them from my window. Beginning to feel the stagnation of this summer, I expected to see either daisies, or a mixture of the two flowers, but there is nothing. The self-imposed hopelessness calls for something that could be called either strange or beautiful. I let go of the shingles and lean back as far as I can without falling.

The new vantage point allows me to see all the way to the moon. I follow its beams of light to the surface of the water, expecting to see the people who have become such a part of my mind. I still hear them, but I see nothing, save for the usual rocks and the one large, vegetation-covered rock that could almost be called an island that buffers the smooth but strong current and makes the cove an easy place to swim.

Unwilling to believe that there is no one there, I twist myself around, so that I am almost viewing the cove at an upright angle. I can see over the island, and from one side of the river to the other. With the sudden realization that no one is present, the murmuring and laughter turn back into the language of water and stones.

Inside my room once more I act almost without thought. The discovery that sadness and assumption were built upon nonexistent persons drives me to shove my feet into a pair of already-laced sneakers and return to the window.

Hanging from the sill by my hands is easier than I thought, and after a little convincing I am able to drop to my feet, crouch, and then stand. A few steps across the yard, a sliding descent to the water, and shoes are discarded. The summer almost has meaning.

With a splash so quiet that it might be mistaken for laughter, I slide into the water. Swimming against the current diagonally, I fight for the chance to be the only midnight swimmer on the island. 1


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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