Ralph looked out across the pond from his seat on the swing. The summer afternoon was dying down. The sun was sinking below the hills and everything seemed to be cast in a dim orange light. He reached down, picked up a particularly smooth, flat stone. Then he stood up and tossed it across the pond. Ralph watched as it hit the surface of the pond several times before finally being dragged below the surface and creating a mosaic of ripples sprouting from that spot in the water. Ralph liked skipping stones. For some reason it helped him think. He supposed it had something do with the quiet of it all down here by the pond that cleared his mind.
Tonight, Ralph was down here because of the fight with his parents that had just occurred about ten minutes ago up in the house. Ralph grimaced, he could still hear his mother’s screams at him echoing in his head. There had been a lot of fights like this lately so Ralph thought he would have gotten used to it by now, but each one seemed worse than the last. The reason for all the screaming matches going on in the Stillwell house stemmed from Ralph’s lack of interest, attention, behavior, attendance, or really anything that required effort in school. His parents went berserk and screamed all kinds of things at him like how he was never going to be anything in life if he didn’t try in school and junk like that.
All the usual crap about how unfocused he always was, forever babbling repetitively about mundane details, taking forever to get to the gist of the matter. Over and over again she yelled at him like that; sometimes he thought she was going crazy, the way she carried on at the top of her lungs. And it wasn't getting any better. The next time would probably be worse. Just like at school, where his mind also tended to wander, the same as when his mother was berating him loudly. But Ralph had developed a way to deal with that, too, the same way he dealt with his mother's frequent shouting matches when she'd start dumping on him about his poor school work. Times like that he'd think about the pond, about just the right kind of rock, the ones that if you threw them across the water just right they wouldn't sink, but skim along making these really interesting wave patterns, and if you'd thrown it at just the right angle it might never stop, might go on skipping forever. That's what gave his thoughts direction, cleared away the distractions, let him zero in on the important matters, kept him from going off on the same old things over and over again. Like that stuff his mother was shouting at him about a few minutes ago, when all he could do was think about going down to the park and look for some of those rocks, you know, the ones that...
Opening: Ljmaleh.....Continuation: Paul Penna