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A Creek in Michigan

by M. P. Arizona

He lay on his stomach... quivering with excitement but being as still as a boy of nine summers could manage at such a magnificent discovery. The sun had been up for several hours and the warmth of the glade overlooking the creek would have been sufficient even had his core temperature not risen in triumph. They were here! And they didn’t know he was watching their work.

Until this particular day he’d seen only the evidence of their existence; the feat their engineering represented. So many other forbidden trips yielded only the promise of a moment such as this! What would they actually look like? How many would there be? Did they work together, in concert; or did they have a single-style like the assembly line picture he’d seen in a book about Henry Ford’s Model T?

Today was just like he imagined it was for Wart when Merlin first revealed himself. Even the threat of another lecture on ruining his “play clothes” did nothing to dim the Eureka moment. Yes, his mother would scold. And she would probably relate the infraction to his father. But nothing could prevent the sheer joy of this moment.

Their heads broke the water with a sleekness he envied. He couldn’t see under the water far enough to tell when or where the next might surface. Eyes dancing from the water to the opposite bank and back again, he marveled at their departmentalized efforts. He fervently hoped he would witness the actual felling of one of the trees; watch to see how fast it toppled or if they had to scurry to get out of the way.

While he was thinking about how he would go about the task if it were up to him, several came into view quite suddenly. How had he missed that possibility? Of course they would be on the top part of the dam as well!

His gaze was instantly riveted. These were the Planners; had to be. They were communicating with those in the water. Whiskers were twitching, tails slapped in an odd rhythm. They even stood on haunches. The wonder of it filled a part of him set aside as an innate receptacle made just for such awe-filled moments.

Where had the time gone? The sun was descending now and there would only be enough time to slither back the way he’d come through the cattails and the tall grass that hid the pheasant nests he would sometimes stumble across. He had to hurry if he was to have any chance at all of going undiscovered in his foray lest the punishment be so clever as to cause a delay in a return in time to see more of the dam constructed.

Pants and pullover hidden carefully under his bed, he changed into the dress she would expect to see; the one she’d sewn for him to play in while indoors. It was a near thing, but a trip to the bathroom wouldn’t take long, and once soap and rag were applied he could be assured of his deceit going unnoticed. His heart thumped out a steady beat as he stepped out of the bathroom and nearly ran into her apron.

“Let me see your hands. You have to scrub them until they’re red or the germs will still be there,” she intoned. “Your braids will have to wait until I’ve finished getting dinner ready. But you’ll do,” she finally decided. It had been some time since her mother had cut her hair, and it was ever a contention between them to keep it contained. Bright blue eyes met chocolate brown as they regarded each other.

Several days later as she pumped as high as the schoolyard swings would allow her to go, she pondered the dream she’d had two nights past. The boy was cute; small for how his thoughts were organized. He was older than her younger brother by at least three years, she guessed. Still he was awfully clever with his shock of brown hair hanging down in his wide brown eyes. And what an odd name for her dream child, Wart! As the bell sounded the end to recess she had a fleeting thought... so quickly come and gone as not to be captured as a thought: Would she dream of him again?

* * *

Some thirty-odd years later she met Wart in person. He introduced himself in a group therapy session that took place in-patient at a hospital she’d agreed to stay at for at least 21 days. As it turned out she left AMA (against medical advice), but she was sure it was the right thing to do.

Instinctively she knew she had reached her limit. Her children used the idiom, Too Much Information. “TMI” they would say when she’d sometimes go too far in explaining something they considered too personal. Well it was certainly applicable now. In fact, she’d say it was “WTMI” — way too much information. So she signed the paperwork and left for her home state; a journey of no few miles.

Back at home she recalled the long-ago day on the schoolyard swings and the strange dream she’d pondered. She saw again in her mind’s eye the brown-haired boy, her Wart, her Part Self. Bewildering as it all was, there was no denying that she really was Many Parts Dysfunctional, as her fellow patients liked to say.

In 1993 the DSM-III was still in use, and the term for her disorder was officially termed Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD). Because Wart, himself, had never experienced any of the personal life the blue-eyed girl had, he was simply a little boy who sat by the creek bank and watched in wonderment as the beavers built their dam.

With absolute certainty born of simple intuition she realized where his name had come from. She was not the only one who listened with enrapt attention when her older brother read her the stories of King Arthur’s childhood. And she smiled tenderly in acknowledgement of Wart’s gift of holding such a wonderfully untainted memory.

Copyright © 2013 by M. P. Arizona

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