Fantasticoe Fall 2004

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The Gifts of the Water Spirit

Jessica Fraghia

 

       The pond next to Highway I-27 is no ordinary pond surrounded by maple trees, cedar trees, and prairie grass. Long ago, Native Americans would pass this pond and perform their wish-making rituals by throwing a flower into the pond. If a good, honest person made a wish as he approached the pond, the Water Spirit would grant him his wish once he passed it. If it was a sinful person, the Water Spirit would use his power to bestow him great misfortune.

      The Water Spirit could not grant every single wish ever made. There were conditions about the wishes. No wisher could wish death on others, for the dead to rise from their graves, or for things for selfish reasons.

      One day, a young man wished for a beautiful wife without offering a flower to the water. Standing in the pond right in front of him was a young woman after he made the wish. As he stepped approach her, she transformed into liquid and the Water Spirit had the pond consume the boy. He sank to the bottom of the pond and drowned.

      After this, the Water Spirit became vengeful and would no longer grant wishes. Not even to the good people whom he was meant to bring happiness to. Anyone who came to perform the wish-making ritual would be consumed by the pond. When this happened, everyone was afraid to even approach the pond because they feared for their lives.

      As the centuries passed, the world changed, but the pond still remained where it was. When people were told of this legend, they became fearful for their lives and avoided the pond. They had no idea who the Water Spirit would strike next, when it would strike again, or if it could ever be made good again."
 
 

      Lana gracefully placed a pair of candelabras on the dining room table and put three candles in each one. The table was set with her mother's beautiful white satin tablecloth, fine French china, antique Italian silverware, and white napkins.

      "Mom, are you almost done with those chicken wings?" asked Lana with anxiety in her bright green eyes. "You know those are Will's favorite."

      "Lana, honey," her mother said soothingly. She took a hold of Lana's oval-shaped face in her hands. "Relax. They won't be done for about another 45 minutes. Yes, I know they're Will's favorite, but you also know how long they take to cook." She caringly let go of her daughter's face.

      "Yeah, I know. It's just that it's been five years since we've been going out. In fact, tonight's the fifth anniversary of the day we met at freshmen orientation at college. I want this night to be perfect and I guess I'm a little nervous about how it's going to turn out. To make matters even more stressful, things get really chaotic at work at the real-estate agency."

      "I understand, honey, but he won't be here until five o'clock. That gives you plenty of time to go upstairs and relax in a nice, hot bath. So why don't you go do that right now?"

      "You know what? That's actually a good idea," smiled Lana as she spun from the dining room toward the stairs. "Oh!" she exclaimed as she twisted around once she got on the first step, "is Daddy going to pick up some champagne for tonight on the way home from work?"

      "Don't worry about a thing, sweetie," her mother assured her smiling. "He knows just as well as I do how much Will means to you. He knows you want this night to be special. I did remind him this morning about the champagne before he left for the law firm. There's nothing for you to worry about."

      "Thank you so much, Mom!" Lana exclaimed with her bright, beautiful smile. She cheerfully skipped upstairs to take her bath and finish getting ready for dinner.
 
 

      Will was driving from his window company to Lana's family's home in his bright red mustang on highway I-27. Going through his head were the same thoughts over and over again. I love Lana with all my heart, he thought. She's the most beautiful girl in the world. She deserves the best out of what life has to offer. I want to spend the rest of my life with her so I can do whatever possible to make her happy. Oh, I want to propose to her tonight. What better time than on our fifth anniversary of dating? I wish I had a ring. No, not just any old ring. But the perfect ring. A ring that's meant especially for her. But I could never find a ring like that in any jewelry store.

      As Will turned onto the dusty gravel road that lead to Lana's parents' home, he could not help but look upon the pond next to the road. The pond laid about ten feet off of the right side of the road. He remembered the pond's legend from when his grandmother told it to him as a child. At the time, Will loved hearing the legend even though he never actually believed it. To Will, his grandmother just loved telling that story to entertain him.

      On this night, however, once he got close enough to the pond before passing it, he caught sight of something peculiar about the water. The light from the fading, setting sun showed something glowing in the shallowest part of the pond on the side towards the highway. Full of curiosity, Will pulled over, turned off the car, and got out to see what it was. He carefully squatted down so to not get his maroon suit dirty for dinner. Bringing his long, soft, warm, masculine hands into the cool, clear water, he felt something hard and squared-shaped. Tenderly gripping his new treasure, he took the object out of the water, stood up, and calmly walked toward the car.

      When he got back in the car, he turned on the light while opening his left hand to look upon his finding. In the palm of his hand was a small, iridescent green box. The color of the box reminded him of the color of Lana's eyes. He gracefully shook up the box to hear a splashing sound along with a hard one. When he opened it up, he saw that the box was halfway full of water. He also noticed a band deep at the bottom of the box. At first, it looked filthy and rusty. However, once he took it out of the box with his right thumb and index finger, all the rust and filth residue just vanished. Now he saw the most stunning ring he ever laid eyes on. It was sterling silver with a two karat diamond on the very top. The diamond was engraved in a metal rose. While examining the ring, he also noticed an engraved design of green leaves and vines around the band. It looked small enough to fit Lana's long, thin fingers. When the light hit the ring at the right angle, it glimmered all over.

      This is perfect, Will thought. Roses are Lana's favorite flowers. She loves sparkling jewelry. And her favorite kind of design is a vine with lots of green leaves on it. This is so unbelievable. I wanted the perfect engagement ring for Lana and now I got it. But how could it happen from just approaching this pond? Could it be that that story Grandma always told me was true?

      Will stuck the box in his left hand out of his already open window and turned it over to let out the water inside. When he brought his hand back inside the car and dropped the ring inside the box, it looked as beautiful as it did when he first took it out.

      Will turned the key in the ignition and looked out over the pond. His eyes widened as the water started to churn. He turned the car off again and gingerly lifted the handle to step outside to see what was happening. The roiling waters became a funnel that lifted, swayed, and finally rested on the shape of a man. Whatever it was, it looked strong and fierce, and what was more, it looked angry.

      "Who or what are you?" Will exclaimed.

      "I am the Water Spirit," answered the figure in a male voice. "You have made a wish and disturbed the water and peace of this pond. Now you must die."

      Will panicked. I have to get to Lana, he thought. "Please, don't kill me, Water Spirit," Will pleaded. "I know of your legend. You were originally meant for rewarding good deeds and punishing selfishness. That young man that you drowned probably did deserve what he got, but not everyone is like that. Take me, for example. I just wished for this amazing ring to give to my girlfriend because I want to give her as much love in the world as I can. How else could I do that without spending the rest of my life with her as her husband?"

      "But you did not offer anything."

      "I know that people would offer you flowers. But if they offer their love, honesty, and care to the world, aren't they offering something even greater than just a flower? If you grant me this wish and let me live, I will do whatever you want."

      The Water Spirit never looked upon a young man who truly had a good heart like Will did. "Alright," he said. "I guess you do deserve what you wished for. I just want you to do a few things for me in exchange for a traditional flower that I would be offered. You must vow that you will never tell anyone about this encounter. You must take good care of your future wife. You must be intimate, affectionate, and loving to her. If you vow that you will do this, I will let you keep that ring to give her and I will grant you more wishes in the future. But you must remember the circumstances on what you wish for."

      "I vow that I will keep your secret. I will not tell anyone, not even Lana. I will be a partner who showers her with love, affection, and honesty."

      "Very well," smiled the Water Spirit. "You may go. I am sure she will love the ring. I hope you both have happiness in the future together." With that, he walked over to the empty pond and turned back into the liquid form of water.

      Will placed the tiny green box into the left breast pocket of his jacket. Then he put the key into the ignition to start the car, put the gear in drive, put his foot on the gas, and made his way to Lana.
 
 

      Lana admired herself in the mirror in her room. Her shimmering golden-brown wavy hair went down to half of her back. She wore a long black skirt with long slits. For a top, she wore the green cap-sleeved top that Will gave her for her 22nd birthday. It was her favorite top and she would never wear it unless the occasion was truly special. She had on black, closed-toe, three-inch-heals. That was all right since she stood at an average height of 5'6 while Will stood at a tall 5'10. She wore a set of sparkling green-stoned earrings, necklace, and bracelet.

      First, she put a little consealer and foundation all over her face to have a porcelain doll look. She picked up some lip gloss to give her naturally bright red, full pouting lips some shine. Carefully, she drew her brush over the blush and covered her high cheek bones with it. She carefully put on eye liner along the inside of her eyes. She closed her eyes and put on a little bit of green eye shadow to match her top. Finally, she put on a coat of mascara and brushed her eye lashes to separate them. She took one last look at herself in the mirror on the vanity and smiled with satisfaction. She picked up some pear-scented body spray because that was her favorite scent. To freshen up her breath, she took a box of mint skittles from her shelf and popped one in her mouth.

      She skipped downstairs full of enthusiasm. Making her way to the kitchen, she saw her older brother Shawn and older cousin Toby playing blackjack with a deck of cards. Toby stood at 5'9, and was wearing his white sailor uniform. Shawn was about 5'8 wearing navy blue dress pants and a blue-striped button-down collared shirt. This was the same outfit he wore to work as a restaurant manager.

      "Guys," Lana said calmly, "I'd really appreciate it if people didn't just leave their dirty clothes and stinky socks all over the floor. That's why the hamper's there. I was the one who had to put them in the hamper. And please remember to replace the empty roll with a new roll of toilet paper."

      "Sorry, sis," smiled Shawn. "I forgot."

      "Grow up, Shawn. That's the worst excuse I've ever heard in my life. You know I want this dinner to go well. You know how much Will means to me."

      "Yeah, I know," joined in Toby. "It's so hard to believe how much you've grown-up. I remember when I first moved in to get away from my parents fighting all the time. I was seven and you were only a toddler and like this," he put his hand up to his knee. "And through my eyes, you're still that little girl who used to always follow me around and laugh at all my jokes. I don't want guys to take advantage of you."

      "I know and I think that's so sweet of you, Toby, but understand. Will's not like that. He's not like any guy I've ever dated. He's honest, sweet, educated, charming, and handsome. He'd never do anything to hurt me."

      "Well, that's all well and good to know. But if he ever does do anything to hurt you in any way, just call me up and Shawn and I will take care of him!"

      "Toby," Lana chuckled. "Please, don't threaten him tonight."

      "If that's what I have to do, that is what I will do."

      Lana just smiled. If she put Shawn and Toby in a competition of who was the most overly protective of her, Toby would definitely receive first place by about two points more than Shawn. "If you guys don't mind me changing the subject, do you know how everything's going for tonight?"

      "Yeah," answered Shawn. "Dad came home with the champagne about twenty minutes ago. Mom finished with all the food a little while ago and it's all on the table ready to be eaten. Now Mom and Dad are just chilling in the living room."

      "I know. I saw them while I came down."

      Suddenly, the door bell rang. It was so sudden, Lana and her family all jumped with shock.

      "I'll get it," exclaimed Lana with excitement. She rushed to the front door open the door. Before her was Will wearing his big, sparkling smile.

      At first, Will just looked at her and smiled. "Oh, baby. You're so beautiful. You're the most beautiful girl in the world." He held her chin and brought his lips toward hers to kiss her as he caressed her soft face. "Happy anniversary, Lana."

      "Happy anniversary, Will. Come on in. Let's sit down and eat."

      Will shut the door and followed Lana through the house. Looking into the glass cabinet, he saw the dolphin statue that he gave Lana for Christmas last year. As everyone approached the table, Will slid out a chair for Lana to sit down in. He sat in the chair right next to her. Peter, Lana's father, sat at the head of the table. Lisa, Lana's mother, was opposite from Peter. Shawn sat opposite of his sister and Toby sat opposite of Will. They all passed around the chicken wings, salad, green bean casserole, biscuits, and cream-styled corn. After dinner, Lisa and Lana brought the dirty dishes into the kitchen and put them in the dishwasher. There was no food left over.

      "Honey," said Lisa, "would you like dessert now or would you rather you two exchange presents?"

      "I'm too excited," answered Lana eagerly. "I want to give him my gift now." She walked over to the refrigerator, reached for the top, and held in a small, rectangular-shaped, cream-colored box in her hands.

      Lisa and Lana walked back into the dining room. Lana had Will's present behind her back. "Will," she said sitting back down, "would you like to exchange gifts now."

      "Sure, Lana," Will smiled.

      "Happy anniversary." Lana took her hands from behind her back and presented Will with the box. Taking it from out of her hands, he opened it up. Inside was a gold pen with a message engraved on it saying, "William and Lana Forever with Love."

      He smiled and kissed her. "Thank you, Lana." He kissed her again. Reaching for his left breast pocket with his right hand, he held the sparkling box in his hand. "Lana," he said to her in front of her family, "you're the best girl I've ever known or ever will know. When I first laid eyes on you at orientation at college, I knew you were unlike anyone who ever walked in or stayed in my life. Spending the rest of my life with you would be the best gift any guy would ever ask for. Lana Johnson," he stepped out of his chair and got down on one knee while opening the box and displaying the ring to her, "will you marry me and make me the luckiest, happiest man in the world?"

      Lana's mouth opened with shock. She looked around at her family. Toby was the only one who gave Will a sharp look with his brown eyes as if he were thinking, This guy's dead if he thinks he could do whatever he wants to my little cousin. But once Lana saw his smile of happiness for her, she knew he was just kidding like he always does. The rest of the family looked at Will and Lana with huge smiles and glimmering eyes. Then she looked down at Will again. With her eyes watering up with joyful tears, she extended her left hand in front of him and answered, "Yes, I will."

      Will gasped with joy and slipped the ring on Lana's finger hoping it would fit her. Sure enough, it was a perfect fit. Once it was all the way on her finger, it shined even brighter that it did before he put it on her. It looked gorgeous the long finger of her feminine hand. He leaned forward, kissed her, and said, "Happy anniversary, Lana. I love you so much."

      "I love you, too," said Lana as she kissed him.
 
 

      Eight months later, it was a beautiful, sunny, warm Saturday in May. Lana and Will had the wedding of their dreams at St. Joseph's, the church where Lana and her family attended every Sunday. The aisle was decorated with white satin and artificial flowers.

      Lana wore a gorgeous satin, princess-waist, strapless wedding gown that had sparkling leaf and flower designs on it with matching gloves. She had a bouquet with white roses that were tied together with white and blue ribbons. She wore the sterling silver necklace and chandelier earrings set she borrowed from her cousin Rita. Her hair was put up with dangling waves hanging out from all over. Her hair was all under the veil, which went up to her waist and was connected to the top of her head by the tiara she wore for her high school senior prom. The foundation, lipstick, blush, eye shadow, eye liner, and mascara gave her a soft, creamy look like a porcelain doll. As Peter was walking Lana down the aisle, she heard guests all over the church talk about how beautiful she looked.

      Even her groom had a huge smile on his face as he gazed upon her beauty as though thinking, I'm marrying an angel from out of heaven. Will wore a white tuxedo. He wore a ruffled shirt under his jacket with a blue tie. On his jacket, he wore a boutonnière with baby's breath surrounding a white rose.

      The three bridesmaids wore simple lavender gowns with cap sleeves, carried bouquets of lavender roses, and had their hair put up in buns with hanging banana curls. The maid of honor was Lana's best friend growing up, Lucy. The other two were Lana's cousins Rita and Maxine.

      The three groomsmen wore black tuxedos with white shirts, black ties, and simple boutonnières with a single white rose. The best man was Will's partner at work, Jack, who was also his best friend in college. The other two groomsmen were Shawn and Toby since Will was an only child and came from a tiny family.

      Lana and Will stood hand and hand when the reverend finally smiled and said, "I now pronounce you both husband and wife. Will, you may now kiss your bride."

      Will gracefully took Lana's face with his right hand to not knock off the tiara and placed his left hand around her tiny waist and above her rounded hip. Lana wrapped her arms around Will's neck and shoulders. As they drew their lips toward each other's, the reverend announced, "Ladies and gentlemen. Friends and family. I now officially present to you all for the first time Mr. and Mrs. William Walker II."

      Everyone in the church threw rose petals and blew bubbles as the couple made their way down the aisle together. "Oh my God," whispered Lana with joy. "We're married now." Will just smiled as he helped her in the white limo so they could make their way to the reception, which was going to be at the Crown Plaza Hotel.

      At the reception, after Will and Lana greeted all of their guests, Shawn and Toby took Will into the other room. "You're a great guy, Will," said Toby. "You and Lana deserve each other. Congratulations."

      "Congratulations. I've never seen her so happy before," agreed Shawn. Suddenly, Shawn got really close to Will's face and said with sincere seriousness, "But if you hurt my baby sister, I'll kill you and make it look like an accident."

      "That's right," agreed Toby. "Lana's my little girl cousin. If you do anything to hurt her in any way, not only am I going to be after you. I'll send the whole Navy after you. I'll send rookies to drag you to the base so I could take care of you. And since I'm a doctor, I could easily make it look like an accident or illness."

      Will looked at them both with fear and confusion. How could they even think this about me? he thought. They've known me since Lana invited me over her Thanksgiving of our freshman year.

      "We're just kidding, Will," laughed Shawn. "I know you and Lana love each other. I know you'd never hurt her."

      "Yeah," laughed Toby. "I know you're a great guy. You love Lana as much as we all do. Now it's your turn to take care of her. You take good care of our baby for us."

      There was dancing, tears of joy, lobster for dinner, the cutting of the wedding cake, and Lana and Will having their first dance to their favorite love song, Marc Anthony's No One. Everyone congratulated Will and Lana for their first day together as husband and wife. Even Toby and Shawn were not acting as protective over Lana towards Will like they usually would. As it got closer to the end of the party, Lana threw the bouquet and it landed in the hands of Lucy. Will sat Lana down on a chair and caressed her long, slim leg as he slipped off the soft, fluffy garter. Lana noticed Toby giving Will a strange look as he was taking the garter off of her, but she knew it was just his personality. When Will threw it in the air, it landed in Toby's hands. Toby and Lucy looked over at each other, cautiously walked toward each other, and started talking.
 

      After their romantic honeymoon at the Sweet Harmony Spa and Hotel, they drove down Highway I-27 to their new dream home that Lana bought through her real-estate company. Will remembered driving down here, wishing for a ring, and once he got to the pond, he found the perfect one for his new wife. He saw the pond coming up ahead and remembered what the Water Spirit told him. He decided to ask his new wife if their was anything else that she wanted them to have.

      "Lana, Darling," he said to her, "now that we're married, is there anything at all that you want, need, or wish we had? Because if so, you know I'd do anything to make it happen."

      "Well," answered Lana, "yeah, of course. I want us to…well… have a baby."

      "So do I. Do you know how many you want?"

      "Oh, just two, I suppose. You know, first a boy and then a girl."

      "That would be wonderful. I wish that all could come true," he said as they passed the pond.
 
 

      Nine months later, Lana gave birth to an adorable baby boy. He had Lana's wavy hair and green eye color, but he had Will's slender lips and black hair. They named him after Will, but they nicknamed him Billy. Two years later, they were blessed with a beautiful baby girl named Gracie. She had straight hair and blue eyes like Will, but she had Lana's golden-brown hair, full pouting lips, and oval-shaped face.

      Thank you so much for everything you've done for me, Water Spirit, thought Will. I guess Grandma was right all along.


      Acknowledgments:
I would like to thank Terry for all of the help that he has given me along the way. When I first wrote "The Gifts of the Water Spirit," the story did not have so much conflict in it, making it a pretty boring story. Then he pointed out that there were so many spelling errors and a few parts of the story that were really confusing to understand. It also had so many titles until I had one that best related to the events that happened in the story. I would also like to thank all the members of the Coe Writing Center for the help they gave me. They offered me advice on how to explain how the pond in "The Gifts of the Water Spirit" was so magical in the first place. They helped me with grammar and spelling corrections, a problem that I have been desperately trying to fix. I got so many excellent ideas from all kinds of people from Coe College. My writing would not be what it is without their help. I would like to thank them for all that they have done for me to make my writing the best it could be. Thank you all!