Once he had surprised a fox in the woods. When he told his father at supper that night, he just nodded. After supper, he picked up his rifle and headed out into the dark. Evan’s mother made him go to bed before his father returned. He dreamed of the little red fox and its bushy tail and twitching whiskers. He cried at breakfast the next morning when his father offered him the tail for a hunting cap. He pushed his bowl away and almost tipped over his chair getting out and running up to his room.
He never told his father about anything he saw after that.
Every morning, he carried three pebbles down to the lake. He stopped in the trees to survey the shore, then look across the water to the shimmering curtain that rose up in the middle of the lake into the sky overhead, as far as he could see. He never aimed for the curtain with the first stone. With a sure flick of his wrist, he skipped the first stone across the lake. Sometimes his first throw would be perfect, and the stone would skip four, five, even six times before dropping into the water.
Evan covered his eyes and peered up towards the clouds, always hoping he might see the edge of the curtain far above. Or see something—anything—up there. No birds had flown into their woods since the day the curtain appeared. His father had hunted just about every living creature to put meat on their table. That fox had been one of the last.
Evan took the second stone and threw it in a high arc across the lake. No matter how hard, how high he threw, the stone never reached the curtain either. It always fell short with a soft plop in the lake’s gentle waves.
He tossed the third stone up in the air and caught it, over and over. After awhile, he would wind up like the baseball pitchers he remembered seeing on television, and once when he was little, his father took him to see a minor leagues game at the nearest town. He would fake throwing pitches and imagine the announcer describing each one—fast balls, curves, slow balls—until, with an extra wind of his arm, he would throw the third stone with all his might, straight across the water toward the curtain. Every time, it would pass right through the curtain, like going through a smooth sheet of water falling down a waterfall, and disappear.
And every day, that was that. Evan had swum out to the curtain, btu he couldn’t go through it. He had sailed his little Sunfish sailboat out there and bumped up against it, but couldn’t get through. But somehow, that little stone went through every day.
Today, he watched it go through, and then when he started to turn around and head home, he heard an odd sound across the water. A little pop. He whipped his head around and scanned the lake. Coming back across the water towards him was a small white stone. Evan knew without a doubt that it was the same stone he had thrown. It fell closer and closer to the water, and he knew it wouldn’t reach the shore. He waded into the water, desperate to catch it. He raced toward it, stretching out his hands, and caught it just above the surface of the lake. His momentum carried him into a full dive under the water, and he jumped up with excitement, his small prize locked in his fist.
Wading back to shore, shaking off water like a dog, Evan opened his fingers to see the stone lying on his palm. It was the exact same stone he had carried down from the yard, turning it over in his fingers with the other two, memorizing its features in only a few minutes as his fingers felt every crevice and curve.
He looked back to the curtain, hoping to see something more. Something new. It was the same as always. But today, the stone came back.
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