The noise threatened to drive Franklin insane. There were too many voices muttering quietly and giggling excitedly. So many people were bustling this way and that, and the swishing of their clothing and the clacking of their shoes echoed throughout the whole space. Other people kept barging into the room to ask where something should go or if his sister needed any help. There was music playing softly in the background to keep everyone energetic and peppy, but it only served to make Franklin all the more anxious. It was the day of his sister’s wedding and everyone seemed to have forgotten about him.
After his aunt Marjorie stepped on him for the fourth time that morning, Franklin had had enough. No one had so much as looked at him since they’d left the hotel. Franklin figured, if everybody could function so well without him, then they wouldn’t miss him too much if he headed outside to get a little fresh air. On the way there, he tripped on the decorations, got yelled at by his mom who warned him not to take too long, and was almost decapitated by the two men carrying in the colossal cake that towered above them.
Franklin stormed out of the building and beyond the parking lot. He trudged and trudged until he had trudged far away from all the noise and all the people who had made him so nervous and so angry. When he finally came to a stop and looked around, Franklin realized he wasn’t entirely sure where he was. One look at the darkening clouds in the sky was enough to tell him that going outside might not have been the best idea.
He seemed to have made his way into some kind of little forest, so he searched the greenery around him for the way he had come in. He couldn’t find it. What he did find was a little gap in the foliage, a perfect circle that looked just big enough for him to walk through. Franklin was fairly certain that wasn’t the direction he’d come from, but a little voice in his head told him to check it out anyway. So he did.
Franklin carefully picked his way through the hole in the middle of the growth and down the slope of the hill as it sloped toward what appeared to be a lake. The wind had picked up, so the surface of the water roiled and churned as Franklin approached its edge. He knelt down and watched the wild motion of the lake. He could just make out the outline of his reflection on the frenzied water and the wind whistling past him was getting his nerves jittery all over again.
Then suddenly, clear as day, his reflection appeared before him. He watched wide-eyed as it winked at him and disappeared in the ripples once more. Franklin was so startled, he lost his balance on the shore and toppled head first into the water.
Head over heels, he tumbled through the waves, fighting for breath and reaching out to find the surface. Finally, the rough waters ceased their motion and Franklin swam toward the sky. When the tip of his head broke the surface of the water it sent tiny little ripples off in every direction. Other than that, the water was absolutely still.
The air was still too. Franklin couldn’t feel any wind rustling his hair. When he peaked down at his reflection, he found that he didn’t actually have any hair to rustle. It was all gone, and in its place had spouted a bunch of little flowers whose stems started out a rich red hue, then faded all the way to a dark green. He felt calmer knowing that he was so much more connected to nature.
The purple and pink glow of the clouds around him were far more lovely that the dark, bruised storm clouds that had rolled in back before he had fallen into the water. As Franklin watched this strange alternate world around him, he realized that he hadn’t felt short of breath the whole time he’d been. He found this particularly odd because his nose and mouth were still below water.
Franklin closed his eyes and silently thanked the nature around him for keeping him safe and calm. He didn’t know if this place was real or not, but this space in his mind had such still waters that ran so deep, that he somehow knew everything would be all right. He took one last look at this beautiful place he had found before sinking back into the water and swimming for the other surface at the bottom of the lake.