Pebble in the pool
From House of Hozz
There was an old pool by the side of the road. It had a small stream that ran into one side and out of the other. Claudius liked to stand by the pool when his mother was sick and throw pebbles.
It wasn't a big pool.
It wasn't a cool pool.
Not an especially beautiful pool.
But it was a magic pool, and it was very, very deep.
Children from town would come to the pool and skip stones. Sometimes the stones would skip off the water, and sometimes the stones would sink. If you could get your stone to skip all the way across the pool, something magical would happen. Sometimes you would get your wish, but usually it was something else.
A boy got to home and his mom gave him a hug.
A little girl once found a beautiful beetle.
The old man in town says it rained when he skipped his stone.
But Claudius couldn't skip stones, so he just threw pebbles.
The children from town would sometimes laugh at Claudius. His arms weren't very strong, and he didn't think very fast. He couldn't walk very well yet either. Sometimes he would forget where he was. The children thought it was funny.
They would laugh when he became excited when he found a pebble that was just right.
They would laugh as his eyes narrowed, and he wrinkled his nose, and pulled his chubby hand way back behind his head.
They would laugh as the pebble went "Ploit!" down near his feet.
The children told him the pebbles he chose would never skip all the way across, but Claudius didn't mind.
Claudius would walk back home along the side of the road with his older brother, Marcus. Sometimes Claudius would wander off from home, but his brother Marcus would always find him at the old pool. Marcus could skip stones like the other children. Marcus said that he would teach Claudius some day. Their mother worried that they would both drown in the deep, deep pool, but the old man in town said that no one had ever drowned in the pool.
That's how they knew it was magic.
Their mother didn't believe in magic though. Their mother was sick a lot, and didn't have the strength to believe in very many things. When she was sick, Marcus would skip stones and wish out loud that his mother would get better. Claudius didn't say anything, he just threw pebbles. Their mother always got better, but later she would get sick again.
One day their mother was very sick. They went out to play, and Marcus took Claudius to the pool. They both threw rocks. Marcus's rocks went "plip... plip... plip, plip, plip-plop." Clausius' rocks just went "Ploit!" Marcus looked at Claudius.
"I wish you could skip your stones. Then Mom would get better! Here, throw them like this!"
"plip... plip... plip, plip, plip-plop."
"Auuuugh! Never mind."
Marcus frowned and threw his next stone extra hard. It skipped, and skipped, and skipped... and made it all the way across the pool! "Yessssss!" he shouted. "Maybe Mom is better now, I'm going to go check!" Claudius didn't follow him, he just watched Marcus run down the road. Claudius looked back at the pool with a serious expression on his face.
He bent down and seriously selected a pebble, just like Marcus.
He pulled his arm way back very seriously, just like Marcus.
He threw it hard down at his feet, just like Marcus.
The pebble didn't go "Ploit!"
The pebble didn't sink into the pool.
The pebble went "Tink... Tink! Tink, tink, tink-tink-tinkinkkink." and stopped in the middle of the pool. "Well," Claudius thought, "It didn't sink! It must be the right pebble! I'll go get it and try again!" Claudius took a wobbly step out onto the water.
"Pla-sploosh!" Went Claudius into the deep deep pool.
The water was warm, but very wet. Claudius wasn't sure how to swim. He had seen other boys do it, something about moving your arms and legs. He wasn't doing a very good job. He was afraid to breathe the water, because he had done it once. It set him to coughing, and that wasn't fun at all.
Swimming was nicer than walking.
Swimming was nicer than thinking.
Swimming was taking him deeper.
Claudius sank down, down into the pool. The water grew darker, but it didn't grow colder. Down, down, down he sank as he swam. Finally he opened his mouth, and found the water was good to breathe. That was a relief. Maybe it was part of the magic of the pool.
He sank past the roots of the trees, that drank the magic water.
He sank past the old man from town.
He sank past the strange lights.
He left them far above.
Markus came back to the pool. Their mother was still sick. But now Markus couldn't find Claudius. He shouted for him, but no one answered.
Markus looked down the road, but he didn't see Claudius.
Markus looked into the forest, but he didn't see Claudius.
Markus looked into the pool, but he didn't see Claudius.
Now Markus was frightened. He ran back home and his mother. She was not happy to see him alone.
She scolded him for believing the magic in the pool.
She scolded him for leaving Claudius by the pool.
She scolded him for loosing Claudius.
Then she cried for a long time. When she stopped crying she felt a little better, and they both went to look for Claudius. But they didn't swim down to the bottom of the pool, so they didn't find him. After a few weeks they stopped looking for him. Their mother cried less and less. Markus tried wishing for Claudius back, but he couldn't skip a stone across the pool. The old man still in town still said that no one ever drowned in the pool. But no one believed him now.
Then, one day, their mother went to the pool alone. She had a smooth flat stone with her. There were little words carved into it. One of the words was "Claudius."
A tear ran down her cheek as she made sure the stone was just right.
A tear ran down her cheek as she scrunched up her eyes, and wrinkled her nose, and pulled her hand way back behind her head.
A tear ran down her cheek as the stone went "Ploit!" down near her feet.
She knew the stone would never skip all the way across.
She wasn't making wishes any more.
But Claudius didn't mind.
I started writing this story and found that it rapidly took on a "children's storybook" tone. Few pronouns, repetitive phrases, intentional informal meter. Comment if you have any suggestions on how to deepen this tone, or if it broke at some point. Also, other comments are helpful too.
I didn't have a story, or a plot, or an ending in mind when I started. All I had was a pool by the side of a road. I stalled a while right where Claudius fell in the pool, but the story is finished now! What do you all think?