The water bubbled and churned over the bones. They weren’t white, but they were clean; washed for years by the stream. A babbling brook. Brook’s babbling brook. This was her favorite place. A valley surrounded by trees and not another soul in sight. Just the bones.
What had died here? These certainly weren’t human bones. Brook never saw a human skeleton, but she was sure these bones formed some sort of animal. Maybe a cow. Or a horse. Too bad the skull was gone.
“Come on, Babble. Tell me what you were.” Brook had never had a pet. Too much mess, too much work. so now the bones of a long-dead animal was her pet. A pet named Babble. no one could take Babble away. And Babble would listen to her. To everything. To her problems. To her adventures. To her hopes and dreams. To what made her happy and to what made her sad. And Babble listened. Sometimes, if Brook was real quiet, she could almost hear Babble whisper to her. Almost.
Today, though, Babble was silent. So were the wild birds. Dampness hung in the air and the sky grew dark. “I have to leave now, Babble. Mother’ll kill me if I get caught in the rain.” She stood up and balanced on the rock at the edge of the water. She imagined Babble whisper good-bye.
Brook jogged through the forest. What was her pet? A horse? Brook imagined riding on the back of a black steed, running through grassy meadows filled with wildflowers. They’d run all day and all night to a magical kingdom where she’s become a princess. All her troubles would melt away and her horse, Babble, would be her best friend.
Brook felt the first raindrop. She quickened her pace. Almost there. The rain fell all around her. Thunder rumbled. She hoped Babble would be alright by himself in the storm. She got to the front door as lightning flashed. She paused and glanced behind her. “Stay safe, Babble. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
The sun shone bright and clear the next day. Brook stood near the babbling brook. Or what was left of it. The water still flowed, but the storm had done a lot of damage. A large tree had fallen across the stream and knocked several rocks loose, including the one she liked to sit on to talk to Babble. Brook gasped.
Babble was gone.
The old bones that had been buried in the stream for years had been washed away in a single night. A heavy tear slipped down her cheek. She sat at the edge of the water and cried.
She didn’t know how long she sat there at the edge of the babbling brook. Minutes? Hours? Who cared?
Something shuffled through broken branches that littered the ground. Brook held her breath and looked up. On the other side of the stream stood a deer. A huge stag with an equally huge rack. It stared at her and flicked its tail. Brook’s heart skipped a beat. She had never seen an animal so majestic in all her life.
“Babble?” She stared at it with wide eyes. The stag lowered its head and raised it again. “It is you, isn’t it?” Brook stood up. Fresh tears slid down her face. The stag twitched an ear and trotted, then leapt gracefully away. Brook stared at the spot where the stag disappeared. “I’ll miss you, Babble.” Brook wiped her cheek and headed home. Babble was free. And now, so was Brook.
Brook's only pet is a pile of bones stuck in the water. What animal was it, and what'll happen to it when a nasty storm brews?