A Day In A Pond
By: Sheri C. Uy
Rachel was absently throwing small stones without a target when she noticed a little girl sitting alone on the steps of a pond. The girl was about five, judging from her young face and frame. Rachel searched her eyes and was surprised at the sadness she discerned in their depths when the little girl turned to look back at her. Without understanding why she was drawn to that sad look, Rachel slowly made her way to the pond steps, where the young girl was sitting. “What’s wrong, baby? Why do you look so sad?” she asked in her gentlest voice. The little one barely moved. “May I sit beside you?” Rachel persisted. The girl’s chin rested on her bended knees. “You know, I’m alone and kinda feel lonely too”, Rachel continued. Her persistence seemed to work as the girl turned to look straight in her eyes. She stared at Rachel as if trying to ascertain if, like her, she really felt sad too. Then with a candidness that took Rachel by surprise, she threw back the question at her. “Why do you feel lonely, Miss?” The soft questioning voice sounded so innocent that Rachel felt something stirred deep within her soul.
Why was she sad? Her mind went back to the little incident she had with her husband in the morning. She had prepared a special breakfast hoping the unusual gesture would somehow take him out from ‘amnesia’ that seemed to ail him for the last couple of months. After deliberately putting the date/clock on the breakfast table, she decided that he had plunged himself deep into oblivion when he noticed nothing but the morning paper in front of his hateful face. She was fuming mad inside and had difficulty in holding her temper at bay. Putting on her rubber shoes, she took her bike and went to a solitary bench located at the far end of the park. It was her favorite spot. She usually went there to think and study. That day, she prayed and just sat there and watched the late afternoon skies.
It was her birthday. She was more angry than hurt at the knowledge that her husband had somehow changed and cared less and less about her over the months. Their small community always teemed with all kinds of talks, the latest of which was that her husband was seeing another woman. But she refused to be drawn into such kind of useless exercise.
The little girl’s upturned face brought Rachel back from reverie. She was patiently waiting for her to reply. “Wwell…,” Rachel hesitated, “I am lonely because a loved one is slowly drifting away…”To her horror, her eyes brimmed with tears and she couldn’t control her shaking hands as she wiped away tear after bitter tear. “I’m sorry, baby. I know you’re too young to understand and I should have kept it my little secret”. She felt silly and stupid pouring her heart out to this innocent little girl. But the young one was intently listening and looking at her. Then in a clear voice, she said: “Why are you crying? You know, Daddy said that I’m bigger now and I am a brave girl,” then she looked at her more closely, as if trying to make sure of what she was going to say, “…and you are bigger than me, and you are crying. You are not brave.” At that moment, Rachel honestly felt ashamed of herself that this little girl was truly braver than herself. She was right. It was as if the girl could see inside her heart and knew that she was as scared as a mouse caught in a mousetrap. Yes, she was scared of getting hurt and she was scared even more of losing the man that she loved. “Sometimes, it’s OK for brave girls to cry”, Rachel hastened to correct the little girl’s impression.
She dried her eyes and made a fuss at straightening her shoulders. “OK, I wanna be like you. I want to be brave too,” she said it like an officer before his superior. Then, in a much milder tone, she asked her again. “I already told you why I was feeling lonely, now, can you tell me why you look so sad yourself?” The little one’s answer was straight and serious. “Because my friend borrowed my bike and I am afraid that it might take a long time before she gave it back to me.” She looked away as if imagining that beloved bike in the hands of another, then, in a voice that held conviction she continued. “But you see, I know that she will give it back, no matter how long it takes, because she knows that it is mine.” She continued in a reassuring note.
This little girl was obviously beyond her age. Rachel could tell that she was intelligent in the way she talked and looked at her. The girl further informed her that the bike was a gift from her grandfather on her fifth birthday. Rachel was about to say something when she stood up. “I have to go now, Mommy and Daddy will be looking for me”. Then like a grown up, she offered her small hand and said, “It was nice talking to you, Miss.” Rachel met her hand halfway and held it in both of hers. She felt a strange bond between herself and the little girl and smiled a bit too brightly when she finally bade her goodbye.
On her way back to the apartment, Rachel parked her bike near the pond bridge and decided to walk the remaining distance between which was about half a kilometer. She realized she was at the pond for a good 7 hours! She was starting to feel the pangs of hunger but she thought the exercise would do her good to release some of her stress. Then, like a slow motion movie, she saw them. Her husband had his arm around white shoulders as her ebony black head rested on his chest. She felt the ground beneath her feet shake violently and a thousand thunders exploded in her ears. She was rooted to the spot and her mouth went dry. She wanted to move but her limbs refused to obey as an unknown force squeezed her heart hard and tried to knock her out. Without ever knowing how, she struggled and slowly made her way to where they were sitting, unmindful of the soft spring flowers that were crushed under the hard soles of her rubber shoes. Her eyes never left them, two beings entwined and lost in a passionate kiss under the dying rays of the sun.
It was a most painful yet enlightening experience for her. Acknowledgement of the things that happened was the first step towards the long healing process. She was betrayed, hurt and finally abandoned by the man she entrusted with her life and dreams and who, she thought would always do the right thing for her. They were married for almost 8 years.
Rachel has moved on and can recall the memory without bitterness and regret. The wisdom of the little girl on the pond stayed in her heart to this very day. Her words empowered her to calmly think and speak with logic. She was an expression of strength and hope at a time when Rachel’s life was about to crash in shambles. Brave little girl!
Her husband never came back but Rachel felt a renewed sense of confidence and, at a certain level, independence. And she felt good! She thanked the Lord for sending her His message through the words of a child. Rachel often pondered if the little girl was her angel in disguise, sent by the Heavens to make her strong in the face of unspeakable pain that was about to unfold before her eyes and engulf her. She would forever remember the soulful face of the little girl, her memory etched deep in Rachel’s heart. It was an unforgettable day in the pond.
(Author’s note: Rachel is now married to a wonderful man and lives with her husband and two beautiful daughters in Spain. I thank her for sharing her painful experience with me and for allowing me to write this part of her life in the hope that women and even men who are in a similar situation would draw courage from her experience and not bend to life’s trials.)