The Pond by G. Akers
At my elementary school, they always used to take the kindergarteners out for walks. It probably wasn’t the safest, but they would hike us out to the back of the playground where the field opened up to a copse of woods.
I remember thinking that the trail was unkempt and the ground too squishy, but then my teacher stopped us and asked us to gather around a small pond just off the trail. Squeezing to the front, between the shoulders of rambunctious boys and girls, I came face to face with the stagnant water of a pond.
Pocket marked by the ripples of tadpoles and fish between stalks of soggy green plants–it was like a mirror, a window to another place.
Ponds are bodies of freshwater that allow light to penetrate them. They usually are not deeper than six or seven feet and are stagnant. Following a decently straightforward food chain including producers, primary and secondary consumers, and decomposers, these organisms live side-by-side in a level system. Their motto–avoid the competition for survival.
Homes for numerous endangered species and places of purification due to certain aquatic plants that absorb pollutants–ponds are a haven for the few.
Maybe that is why I couldn’t look away. The reason why I found myself riveted by such a small ecosystem. How a small world existed within the fold of the woods, how a food chain of such violence bred with the animal instincts of survival of the fittest could harbor such a calming and soft effect.
Part of the woods but not of it–representing various stages of life from the tadpoles darting desperately close to our grubby fingers to the frogs crouching on the side. Pulling in the pollutants in the surrounding soil and blooming despite it. The haven of the few, the savior of the many–my own reflection in it seemed softer, kinder, safer.
And, nevertheless, stagnant. Completely unchanging as the kindergarteners from that day lost their gummy smiles and–those like me–grew into the teachers on the sides. Stagnant as they wiped out a line of trees for a telephone pole, or as the woods around it withered and bloomed all over again.
I can’t help but think of all the stories that the pond had seen–not just in the trees and animals but in the eyes of the young girls and boys who came face to face with themselves in those waters.
Maybe it is why I let their words sting even if I do not show it. Or why some part of me still thinks you should take everything personally. And why, when I hit back, it is kinder. That when you see yourself reflected back you are softer, safer, and more boldly honest and unchanged than before.
To think that when you learn a lesson, it is one that sticks with you–like the sight of your own eyes in the rippling waters below.
G. Akers is a writer from the hills of Kentucky who loves to read and be outside. She hopes to become an English teacher.