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Today's Story by Arwen Kuttner

I have to return to work tomorrow.

The Movement Of Water

The stream rippled down the mountainside, curling, tumbling beneath rocks at Virginia’s feet. How might someone identify a single drop of this flow without it blending all the more? She dipped her hand into the water, cupping some to sprinkle upon her scalp and felt the tiny drops sliding down her face, cooling before evaporating into nothingness.

How strange to know that it had no ego to let it cry, “Don’t separate me from the rest of this water that is so dear to me,” or “Give me only one last churn,” or even, “Make me free!”

Virginia rose from her spot by the stream. A pebble kicked off her boot. It ricocheted of a larger rock, splashed, then settled into the stream. When might this pebble be disturbed again by the movement of the water, by another human foot, buy a deer’s hoof, by the shake of an earthquake or only over millennia with the gradual shift of gravity that would reshape all substance in ways that eyes could never detect?

It felt natural to be so invested in her surroundings. She felt whole. But as soon as she recognized that feeling, she weighed it against the alternative and lost her focus.

“I must return to work tomorrow,” the words thudded against her meditation and a landslide of other thoughts joined then. “I will wear my cashmere sweater.” “I must pack my sandwich tonight.” She remembered the sight of her beige desk in that air-conditioned room. There was carefully stacked pile of invoices and the photograph she’d propped by her computer to try and make it feel like home.

She was not ready yet to leave her present.

“Stay” she said to herself, interrupting the cascade. “Be here now.” She said it again, again and yes, again. And it worked, but only within the confines of her mind where thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow blend all as one, rippling forwards, noisy and bubbling, as though inhabiting the very air around her. So hard to pluck just that one moment – once plucked, so quick that it evaporates away.


Originally from Oregon, Arwen Kuttner currently lives, parents, writes and teaches in Englewood, NJ.


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