When I came back outside Sandy was over by the edge of the pond amongst the bulrushes, crouched down on her little haunches in her bright purple boots.
“Sandy!” I said, picking up some more dirty plates from the patio table. “What are you doing over there, honey?”
She didn’t look, just called out in her cute little 4-year-old voice I never tired of hearing: “Playing boats Mommy!”
I set the dishes back down on the table and strolled over to her. Pushing aside the tall grass I saw a tiny paper boat floated toward the center of the pond, slowly sailing with the last of its inertia from the push my little girl had given it.
“Honey, where’d you learn to play boats?” I said, crouching down next to her.
“Froggy!” she said, hugging me. “Froggy lives in the pond. Froggy and I love playing boats!” And then she ran off back into the house.
Isn’t that cute? I thought, but part of me still wondered where she learned to fold a paper boat like that. Must have been at kindergarten.
That night I awoke that in the darkness to a scream, a scream I recognized in even my sleep to be that of my little girl. It had come from outside. I ran out of the bedroom in my nightgown, down the stairs and out the back door onto the grass.
“Sandy!” I called. “SANDY!”
Tiny footprints led to something white by the edge of the pond, pushed in the damp earth and surrounded by the dewy grass. Slowly I followed them over and picked it up.
It was Sandy’s paper boat, limp and soggy, and beneath it sunk into the mud was a massive webbed footprint, the first of a trail which led out to the center of the pond, where a single purple boot floated.