Thirtieth Sim of Thirty Sims at Three Rivers
30. The calm still pool
The writer shut down her computer.
“I’m heading out for a walk,” she called.
“Kill-ill-ill-ill or be ki-ill-ill-illed,” chanted her boyfriend in his best Vincent Price imitation from his own computer. Click, knock, clack. The interface for the online chess program registered his moves in rapid succession. “Prepare to meet your maker, potzer!”
An automated voice said, “Check mate,” and she heard the chime of a new game starting as she closed the door.
Across town, at that very moment, a man came home from his meeting, counting 229 days of sobriety.
The writer walked beneath clouded sky, searching for stars that might peek out.
A husband and wife shared a meal, each privately calculating how much longer they might continue to share a life.
A family celebrated a daughter’s award-winning botany project.
The Green Party candidate, when no one watched, picked up a bag of trash, simply for the joy of making the world more beautiful.
The writer paused to watch moonlight on the pond.
A nurse grabbed a cup of coffee before tending to her next round of patients.
The painter carried her easel to the upstairs deck, where the same moon that shone over the desert sparkled silver light on the tops of the leaves.
A man without a home found a steak dinner, grilled and left for him at the picnic table.
The moon kept shining, and clouds seemed to be made of silver light.
A child slept.
Her cousin played with bubbles while pretending to wash the dishes.
A big sister listened to her kid sister–not childhood secrets, anymore, but the talk that women share when a kind word is the only balm for a hurting heart.
Another woman, in solitude, became lost in a novel while the crickets chirped.
The moonlight traveled over the bay where the sailboat tucked in its sails for a good night’s rest.
A girl told a story for the hundredth time, and her mother felt more surprised by the ending than ever.
An old novelist finished her run, remembering when she’d walked these same cobblestones beside her lover, wrapped in his arms and smelling the muscatel on his breath.
A man wondered if cheerfulness were more resilient than accusations.
A son watched his mothers and hoped that maybe, someday, he might find a way to speak what he felt in his heart.
The mothers rested in their own shared feelings, which were broad enough to absorb all misunderstandings and even, the greatest mystery of all: another person, with his individual perceptions, ideas, and responses.
Light traced its mystery along the meniscus of the pond. Whose eyes saw this sparkle? The writer’s. A moth’s. A minnow’s. An owl’s.
Shimmering water touches more than our retinas–the light reaches deep inside our minds. Do we remember, in that flash, where we came from?
It all exists within; it all exists without.
The writer shuts off her computer.
“I’m heading out to say hi to the moon!” she calls to her boyfriend, playing chess on his computer at the kitchen table.
“Say hi from me,” he calls back.
The door closes on the house, and the universe spreads outside.
The earth turns slowly. The cosmos breathes. Through the galaxy, trillions of beings experience life through perceiving consciousness, individual in form and connected through the calm still pool at the center of each.
Author’s Note: And maybe, this right here is what Three Rivers is all about: