We found her at the mouth of Silver Creek.
We found her beside a tree stump sharpened to a point by the beavers who regularly felled the trees to transform Silver Creek into a pond quiet and anonymous and secret.
Thirty years back, we used to step across that creek. How many gallons of water filled this place now?
We found her where I've stood with my hands in the back pockets of my jeans, watching the concentric circles—echoes of a stone thrown—widen and ripple before fading away to stillness.
But a body of water—even a pond—is never stagnant, even when it appears to be. And my daughter, so silent and still, is so much more than people think she is.
I hate when her schoolmates mock her.
I hate it more when they ignore her.
I'd told her time and time again not to come down here alone. There are hunters in these woods. And the water is deep.
But how can you keep a child from nature?
And should you, even if you could?
We found her facing the cattails growing in the icy marshland and I remembered, as I ran, how I tried once upon a time to catch a trout with one, and failed.
We found one of her red boots turned upside down in the snow. We found her orange scarf coated with ice. We found her sitting on a log staring out over the water.
“Cari!” I shouted.
She turned and gave me a toothless grin. She stood barefoot in the snow and laughed.
I pulled my cell phone from my pocket and dialed. “We found her.” I picked her up and wrapped her in my jacket. “Let's go home,” I said.
The beavers will continue cutting their trees.
Her classmates will continue laughing at my daughter.
And she will continue to find solace among nature, beside the laughing stream.
This was written for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word was mouth.