Ripples In The Lake
Mia Van Heerden, Grade 11, Christian Outreach College -
Did you know that it takes eight minutes for the light from the sun to reach Earth? That means that, if the sun exploded, humankind would only notice eight minutes after it happened, by which point it would be too late.
It took me eight minutes to realise that my best friend was dead. The light of my life was extinguished, but I had still called out his name until my voice was hoarse. People rushed to his side, and it wasn’t until my sister dragged me away from his body that I saw the blue around Liam’s lips and his blanched face. He was gone, and I was left in darkness.
The day of Liam’s funeral was a pristine, cloudless sky. The sun’s heat beat down on my shoulders all through the service. I was surprised the sun was still there. The world should have stopped to grieve, but everything seemed the same.
Adults told me that the grief would get better with time, but the afternoon was no better than the morning. The Duncan family was hosting the reception at their house, and I hated the thought of going there without seeing Liam struggle to put his sneakers on in a rush to greet me. Stepping over the threshold, I felt the atmosphere change from one of grief to discomfort. The house was brimming with flowers on every surface, bursting from clear vases. It was even more adorned than the church lectern on Easter Sunday. I guess regret is stronger than gratitude.
Mr Duncan leaned against the kitchen table. His eyes met mine, but he didn’t smile. Neither of us did. He walked towards me, weaving through the crowd of charcoal dresses and ashen faces.
“How are you holding up?” he asked.
I averted my eyes from his penetrating gaze. “I’m fine,” I replied bluntly.
“It’s okay not to be.”
I looked up at him, noticing the dark circles under his eyes and the hint of stubble on his cheeks. I lowered my head to hide my watering eyes.
“I just don’t get why… why him? Drowning in that lake-”
“We all die,” Mr Duncan said softly. “The objective of life isn't to live forever, it’s to create something that will.”
That night, I thought about what he said. No one is actually gone until the ripples they cause in the world die away. The problem with that is, 99.99% of people, alive and dead, don't know who you are. There are only 0.01% of people to keep your ripples from dying out.
“Goodnight honey!” mum crooned from outside my room, interrupting my thoughts. I muttered it back under my breath. Sighing, her silhouette in the bright doorway leaned against the frame.
“With Liam gone-” she began.
“He’s not gone,” I said abruptly. The hallway light was enough to illuminate her shocked face.
“He’ll never be. I’m going to keep his ripples from stopping.”
She hesitantly closed the door, but things didn’t seem that dark anymore.