The Same

by Toti O'Brien

I was three or four years old, spending whole afternoons by the water pipe. Just an open groove of concrete—meant for irrigation—it spread throughout the orchards, branching off in intricate nets. To me it was a labyrinth, a freeway leading everywhere, a tool of discovery.

I sat there... for how long? Time didn’t make sense. I sat there enchanted, my hand brushing the green, muddy stream—as majestic as a Mississippi or a Nile, which I didn’t know existed.

I was thrilled by the occasional leaf falling in, then being carried along. Following its course toward unrevealed destination was bliss. I saw it slide away, suddenly accelerate, hesitate then rush. I pursued it until darkness came and a grown-up found me, promptly returning me to the house, grandparents, and dinner.

Half a century later I kneel by a flowerbed, carefully pulling weeds. My hand plunges in the river of grass, gravel, dirt, my torso inclined. My eyes lost in contemplation of a single corner of earth, I’m entirely oblivious. I breathe in the peace nature pours over me, erasing all noise.

Musical composition by Victor David Sandiego

Toti O’Brien’s work has appeared in Boston Accent, The Wax Papers, Thrice Fiction, and Between The Lines, among other journals and anthologies.