“It was only a duck pond, at the back of the farm.”
Standing in the middle of the packed-dirt lane, his demeanor said more than his words. If he made that benign assertion often enough, people would believe him, or he would believe it too.
Old folks, like Miz Rose, swore there was a prehistoric creature lurking in its depths. Proud of having a local cousin of Loch Ness’ monster, they kept petitioning the city board to have an annual festival. The resulting tourism, they said, would breathe some life into this dying town.
Die-hard anglers put more credence in stories of a mammoth catfish. Ugly as sin at frying size, if a granddaddy could escape their nets long enough, he could get to the size of a full-grown man. Anyone seeing a cat that big wouldn’t be blamed for claiming he saw the devil.
Under the full-moon sky, the water was smooth as glass and reflected the pale, yellow light back to the night. Huge bubbles broke the surface on the far shore. A trail of froth moved across the pond in a lazy zigzag.
As we watched the bubbles and ripples churning the dark water, I took his hand. I gripped his fingers so tightly I heard him gasp, but he didn’t pull away.
A wave was building as it neared our shore, as if a massive creature was moving under the water. Its wide shoulders surging forward, pushing a wall of evil toward us.
I held tight to his hand and buried my face in his chest. He wrapped his other arm protectively around me, pulling me in close. I could hear the rapid beating of his heart, and turned toward the pond, afraid of what was coming, but still needing to see.
As the wave built to its crescendo, just as it crested, it flatten out to nothing. The pond once again glassy smooth and flawless.
Willing our hearts to calm, our breath to still, we finally loosened our hold. Only then did we notice how quiet it was. The first chirp of a frog broke the silence and we shook off the spell we fell under.
“See, I told you.” He ran his fingers through his sweat drenched hair. “It’s only a duck pond.”