The Prompt for this story comes from storyaday.org, by Julie Duffy. In this story, I attempt to write from the point-of-view of a young boy, exact age undetermined.
The boy listened to his parents arguing, taking in their words while they either didn’t realize or didn’t care that he overheard.
“It’s too late to go to the museum now,” said Mother. “Allen needs his sleep.”
“We only have two days here,” countered Father. “He needs to experience these things while he’s young. It’s not too late today, but it may be too late tomorrow.”
“Stop philosophising and start listening!”
“Stop picking a fight over every little thing.”
“I’m not! I want to have fun on this trip as much as you do, but it has to be scheduled– not spur-of-the-moment-let’s-stay-out-until-midnight.”
“It’s not midnight, it’s five o’ clock!”
“And we’re having dinner at six.”
“We can eat at seven, can’t we?”
“Do you really expect to get through the whole museum in two hours?”
“That’s plenty of time.”
“It’s not! If we go to the museum, we’ll be there at least three hours; then it’ll take an hour or maybe two at the restaurant; and then we have to catch a cab back to the hotel and who knows how long that’ll take.”
“Well, ask Allen what he’d like to do, then.”
“Ha. He’s not old enough to understand the pros and cons of choices like this. That’s why he has us to decide things for him.”
Their voices faded into the background as they passed by a large rectangular pool of glassy water decorated here and there with lily pads. Allen let go of his mother’s hand, and she barely seemed to notice as she and Father paused by the pool to continue their…discussion.
He understood more than they thought he did.
He leaned over the pool and caught his reflection, framed by the concrete at the bottom and the lily pads above, including a single pink lily floating serenely on the water. How Allen envied that little water lily its peaceful and stationary existence. Maybe it bobbed up and down once in a while when the water stirred; maybe a bug landed on it now and then. But it never had to wonder where it was going– what would happen next? It never had to listen to the lilypads bickering.
But would he really be happy as a water lily? Would he really be content to sit and do nothing his entire life? Better to be a frog, he decided, as he watched a pair of the tiny green amphibians chase each other across the lily pads. Then he peered at his reflection again, imagining himself with bulging eyes and a wide mouth, and long strong legs for hopping. He crouched and hopped– once, then twice, then a third time directly into the pool.
It was not deep– only two or three inches– but the resulting splash was all the more impressive for it. Time slowed and Allen watched with fascination as the water all parted away from him as he hit the concrete bottom, then receded back to fill in the temporary dry spot. Like Moses parting the red sea, only lots quicker.
He climbed out– the brisk air blowing against his wet clothing– and he braced himself for his parents’ reactions.
“Allen!” Cried Mother. “Your clothes!”
“What ever possessed you to do that, Son?”
Allen could never decide which he hated more: His mother’s fussing over him like he was even now a baby, or his father’s biting disappointment at his lack of self-control. Mother didn’t want him to grow up, while in Father’s eyes he couldn’t grow up fast enough.
He continued to stare into the pool as the water settled, and Mother placed her coat over his shivering shoulders. The water lily was still there. Still.