The pond was deeper than she expected. Colder, too. She felt as though she was sliding, sinking, falling down down down to the bottom — wherever that was. A sudden flash of memory swam by — Dr. Seuss and McElligott’s Pool. A kid with a fishing pole and a bottomless pit of water that ends up in an ocean somewhere.
Panic set in as it is wont to do when a person is drowning. Her mind stopped making sense. Instead, it fired a final desperate thought: This was how the story ends? Really?
“It’s so quiet without our girl,” her father said.
“It’s quiet because Alice was such a clumsy child, always bumping into things. A walking, breathing cartoon of ungainly girlhood, she was. Never had her mind on what she was doing.”
“Not true. Not true at all”, said Alice’s father. “Alice is a lovely girl. In another story she might have been a dancer. We could have called her Clara.”
A slender young man strode into the library. “Clara? Who’s Clara?”
“Pay no attention to the old coot,” Alice’s mother replied. “I haven’t a clue what he’s on about. He’s a crackpot.”
“Where’s Alice?” the man asked.
“Alice doesn’t live here anymore. She’s moved.”
Alice’s boyfriend was stunned.
“Can you blame her?” Alice’s father said to his wife. “You were always at her about something — don’t drink this, don’t eat that, put the key back where you found it – nag, nag, nag. No wonder she left.”
“Are you saying, it’s my fault?”
“Does a donkey bray?”
The ex-boyfriend turned on his heel and walked out without a word.
The bickering continued. It never stopped.
~Alice makes up her mind~
Alice had never been able to settle. No matter where she traveled, how many marvels she discovered, it was never enough, because there was always one irritation that she could not shake. Herself.
Good, God, she was annoying. Chasing after some elusive thing.
She knew well enough what she didn’t want: Children; factory work; city living; an overbearing husband (or an even-tempered one for that matter, nope, no husband at all, chalk it up to her parent’s lousy marriage for scaring her off that one). The list grew longer the older she got. Her problem was she couldn’t decide what it was she did want.
Boxes were still stacked in the foyer of the cottage. Her cottage. Her new home. Before she began the task of unpacking, she’d gone to a local market and picked up items for a picnic lunch. Sandwich, chips, some fruit, and a bottle of wine.
It was the pond that sold her. The water lilies spread like a cape over the surface, fish flicking orange tails just below the surface. She hadn’t thought of having a pond until she saw this one. And then, when she did, she knew it’s what she wanted all along.
She had one glass of wine. That’s all. Something jumped in the water, and it startled her. She dropped her glass and it broke, cutting her knuckle. Then she accidentally knocked over the bottle and the rest of the wine poured out onto the grass as the bottle rolled the few feet and plopped into the pond.
She figured she’d kill two birds with one stone. Retrieve the bottle and wash the blood off her finger at the same time. She thought about a lot of things in her last few minutes. Like how much she was going to enjoy living here. She might even invite her parents for a visit, if they were well enough to make the trip. Definitely put in a garden around the pond.
She could do anything she wanted now. After all, she had lots of years ahead of her yet, didn’t she?
n.b. The object of this DP Weekly Writing Challenge was to begin a story with the end. It sounded like fun. It was fun to figure out. I hope you like it.