When she was a little girl, she loved to stomp in puddles. Deep puddles were best, clouded murky and dark, the kind without visible bottoms. She used to lean over and peer at them, imagining fantastic possibilities just below the surface. Perhaps there were fish, or maybe glorious treasure. Perhaps a dark and secret path, deep deep deep down into the core of the Earth, straight and true she’d flee before popping out on the other side, probably in China. It didn’t matter how many times it was explained to her that traveling through the center of the earth would land her somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, she still believed that when she found the right tunnel, it would take her to China.
And so with a running start, or maybe a two step leap, she’d jump high, as high as her little legs would allow into the air, hang briefly for just a half instant and then plunge feet first into any puddle in her path. She loved the noise, the crash, the clamor of water displaced high high high into the air, to knee height or maybe mid thigh, before raining softly back to the ground. She loved the rush of rain water creeping into her shoes, the drastic cold, refreshing and pure. She’d smile at the scolding received from parents and guardians and random passers of by.
She grew up and grew out, acted out, moved on. Fell in love with photography, as young women of a certain disposition are inclined to do. It was fantastic and fun and fine, the way she could take a moment of beauty and hang onto it forever. Friends and strangers, she loved their smiles, and they loved having their pictures taken by her. Sunshine fill forever effects; the computer was her friend, distorting reality to fit her ideas, she saw through their smiles. Clicked and saved. Forever recorded onto hard drives, it was her version of the truth, and she’d remember it as she damn well pleased.
She got older still and more beautiful yet, she fell in love once, twice, a dozen times, every time, but maybe this time was the last time. He was quiet and sincere with the kindest eyes in the world, and he adored her completely. And she adored him back. Took pictures of him smiling and when he wasn’t looking, he‘d pretend to scowl and together they would laugh. They bought a little house together in the city and held hands on walks to the corner store and to the movies. She loved when it rained, for a giant puddle would form in the gutter across the street from their little house. Deep and wide, perhaps to be filled with fish and treasure and a secret passage to China. She studied it closely, peering down and seeing her little house in the city reflected in its expanse. Her perfect little life, with her perfect boy and their happy ending reflected upside down, etched temporarily in the gutter across the street.
She couldn’t resist leaping high high high into the air and crashing down into her reflected image of perfection. Shattering it herself, on her own terms, before one day, without notice or warning, it had dried up and disappeared.