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The Waterfall Place This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   It was a very wild place, in essence. Granted, its tiny waterfall was manmade, and several yards away were the beginnings of a driveway, but still only wild things came to drink out of its clear stream and only wild things grew on its stony ground.

It was generally a peaceful place. The breeze rustled softly through the leaves and the rain, when it came, filtered gently through the canopy of its wide, green trees. The place did its best to keep the wild things from fighting when they came to visit, and did its best to conceal the wild things when they hid from the cars that occasionally raced by on the road behind it.

It could be a very frightening place in a storm. The torrents of rain filled its little stream to a raging river, and the trees were whipped to a frenzy by the lashing winds. But, all in all, it much preferred being a peaceful place. Being frightening scared its wild things away and forced it to grow new plants and trees. Peacefulness was easy, and it liked things when they were easy.

The place saw many changes of season before they came. It pushed new growth through its soil in the springtime and brought forth all manner of wildflowers: white ones, blue ones, rambunctious dandelions, and shy lily of the valley, all nodding their fragile, beautiful heads to the busy bees and perfuming the place in wild scents. Hot summer suns brought a stillness to the place, only ants moving about on the rocks. Cool summer moons brought the night creatures out to play on its stream bank and in its tree branches. Fall brought gorgeous, flaming color to its plants and trees, and the place swelled with happy pride at the varying shades of reds and yellows and oranges it could produce. In the winter, the place became lethargic, its waterfall a frozen column of crystal that tossed rainbowed shadows on the solid silver stream and the white, white snow that blanketed everything. These seasons went by, unchanging. That is, until they came.

It was a confused place. It didn't know what they were at first. They were nothing like its normal wild things, all loud with laughter and fumbling hands and feet and awkward limbs. It knew instinctively they were young things though, the way a seedling instinctively knows which way the light is. It was angry. Its stream hissed and spat over the rocks, and its waterfall burbled furiously down. They chased away its wild things and disturbed its peace. Then, slowly, after the young things kept coming back, it grew used to them. It even began to grow fond of them.

It was a magic place. Kingdoms rose and fell on its soil; empires clashed, unicorns gathered in its feathered ferns, dragons relaxed on the wide tree branches, and space ships landed on its rocks, while the two young things played. The place stretched itself to please them, making its stream more deep and clear, its sunlight more bright and its shadows more soft. It made its trees grow tall and straight, like the towers of a fairy castle, and the bushes beneath, it made gentle and clustered here and there like hovering courtiers. What the young things wished, it strove to produce. In truth, it became a glorious place.

The seasons passed through the place, and its young things came and thrived on its nurturing presence. The place was happy and content. If it was no longer quite so peaceful, it didn't care. It loved the young things, even when the daytime wild creatures didn't come anymore. The seasons passed and the place was joyous.

Then, one day its young things didn't come. It watched, and waited, but they didn't come. Not the next day, or the next. It kept itself beautiful for them, hoping they would come soon. But as the wild things began to come back, creeping like thieves in the shadows, the place knew they were gone. And it knew sadness.

It was a lonely place. The leaves turned four times, and each time, the place lost some of its health. The trees grew gnarled and sparsely leafed. The plants were brown and withered, and its tiny stream, once so free, diminished to a bare trickle, as if the place were a soul with no more tears to shed. The wild things were sullen and wary, and visited less and less. The wind howled a heartbreaking sound through the naked trees, and even in spring, the place could barely bring itself to push up even one flower. Even that was too much effort, and the place was dormant at last.

Time passed as slowly as a falling feather, but as determinably as the proverbial drop of water on the proverbial stone. Suddenly, the place roused. It felt footsteps on its soil, heard familiar, wondering voices breathing of nostalgia. Somewhere in its dark sluggish depths, a spark of excitement glimmered. The young things were back. A slight breeze moaned its despair at the state the place was in. The place checked carefully and knew it was the beginning of spring. When the young things left, taking much of their light and gaiety with them, the place jealously stole a bit, and hoarded it like a precious jewel.

Over the next few weeks, it was a laboring place. Life was shoved through its soil to the twisted trees, causing them to bud and leaf out. The withered plants were made to be green and growing once again, even if sparsely. With effort, the place coaxed up flowers of all colors to grace the banks of its dry stream. Then the place collapsed to recuperate, exhausted form the energy it had expended.

The young things came back. They were different, it noticed. They spoke softly and moved easily. Gone were the fumbling hands, the awkward limbs. They walked gently to try not to scare the wild things. But still they laughed and joked and remembered, giving back to the place a piece of itself. One of the young things turned then, and looked to where the waterfall had once been. She exclaimed sorrowfully to the other one, who grew quiet and sad as well. They both sighed, almost in unison, then smiled a bit and walked away. The place heard them promise to come back. As soon as their backs were turned, the place gathered itself for one last effort. Slowly, so very slowly, a tinkling, musical sound arose. The slightest trickle of water crept over the edge of the waterfall and glinted like spun silver in the afternoon sun. n


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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