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Ripples

It was a hot day in July and we were sitting at the edge of the lake, bare feet dangling in the water to cool them. My father dug in the earth and brought up a small stone - a pebble really.

He showed it to me and said, "Lies are like a stone thrown into water."

I looked at him, puzzled, and watched as he threw the stone overarm into the lake. It hit the surface and water splashed upwards as the stone sank.

"Keep watching," he said, as I glanced back at him again.

The ripples began, perfect circles of movement reaching further and further from where the stone entered. It seemed as if they would never stop, covering the surface of the small lake but, finally, they did.

"Now forget that you saw that," he told me.

I shook my head. "I can't."

He sighed and dug his hand into the earth once more and I thought he would throw another pebble. Instead he looked at his palm, speaking so softly it was hard for me to hear.

"When you tell a lie, even one you think is very small, it grows and changes everything about it and, try as you might, you can't forget it. Every splash is a lie, every ripple. Even when it isn't."

He brushed the soil and pebbles from his hand, stood up and waited for me. We walked home quietly, the sun hot on our bowed heads and rounded shoulders.

It was ten days before he left.

Our house of angry shouting became one of silence and tears.

The Taste Of Apples

There are still small bones buried at the bottom of the garden. The grass has grown over them but the ground is uneven. The rose bush once grew strong and glorious nourished by their phosphorus. The pig pen is gone, replaced by a plastic swimming pool. The former chicken run now houses a bright red slide.

The old iron spiked fence has been exchanged for a wooden one. It still leaves one mark that won't be erased - the scar it left on my thigh where I once climbed over it.

The apple tree is gone too but, when I close my eyes, I can still see it there and hear the soft sounds of birds and insects as I sat amongst the branches, the sun shaded by the leaves. The scent of apples comes to me too, tiny ones that were sharp and crisp, the ground littered with fallen ones where the birds feasted.

The house is very different. The small outhouse is no more, of course. No one now wants to go from the house to an outdoor toilet by the light of a flashlight. It was not only a toilet but a tool shed, and I recall the huge scythe dangling overhead from the rafters like my own personal Sword of Damocles.

There's an electric fire in place of the black iron range and in the corner where a large wood framed chair stood, there's now a television. The walls are white, not stained from the heat of the open fire or the nicotine of his pipe. He would sit, long legs extended in front of the fire and crossed at the ankles, and eat hard yellow cheese with bread for supper.

I walk outside and stop on the pavement. It's a lovely day. The sun is out but there's a pleasant breeze. I look around at the empty street, the closed doors, and remember it full of children playing, the old people standing on doorsteps gossiping, fathers kicking balls to sons and mothers calling that dinner is ready.

I shut the door and walk away from my great-grandfather's house. Its time is past but my memories, still sharp as the remembered taste of apples on my tongue, go with me.