You were a splinter stuck in the foot of a young girl who ran down a dock without shoes on, despite her father’s warnings.
Your father carried you inside and soaked your foot in a bowl of water, loosening the wooden shard with tweezers to slide it out. These metal tongs, generally used for pulling unwanted hairs from eyebrows, were now used to draw a mistake from a child’s foot who preferred squishing around in the wet grass to the constraint of human-made shoes.
In the little yellow house, you could see every other room from the living room. The bathroom, foyer, and sunroom were connected to the kitchen on one side. The other side of the house had two bedrooms and a playroom that your parents converted into a bedroom for your sister when she was born. You were happy to have a sister but concerned about where your toys would go during this renovation. At least you still had your bedroom to yourself.
In the summer, the heat would release the rancid smell of the muck from the pond’s shore, and the wind would waft the scent into your house, living room, bedroom, seeping into your blankets… It lingered. It disgusted you almost as viscerally as when your father would cook liver with bacon, and you would put pillows against the crack under your door to keep the stink from invading your room.
Despite the stench of the summer pond in your house, you loved playing outside in the water and collecting the muck to make mud pies held together by stinking, crunching seaweed.
The neighborhood children would jump off their docks into the murky water or float on inflatable tubes to cross their small shores.
If you run down a dock, smacking every board with your human heaviness, you’ll scare away all the creatures swimming underneath.
However, if you creep by picking up your feet and gently place them down on every creaking old board, you might just spot something swimming off by the time you reach the end. If you lived on the pond that I lived on, you would probably see a painted turtle or a sunfish scampering away.
Once, you saw a bright-red fish with a slithering tail. Or a freshwater eel. Or a vicious monster.
It was a vivid piece of the great unknown that you saw swimming away from the end of her dock — the Lochness Monster of the Pond — and it frightened you to imagine what else may be lurking beneath the surface.