As a child, Anne was always curious everywhere. Birds, butterflies and squirrels flew away whenever she approached the trees and bushes with laughter and shrieks of amusement. Her Uncle Jack, on the other hand, was preparing the net and making a fire. He spent about three hours at it. Finally done, he called his niece's name along with a tempting offer.
"Anne, come back! It's marshmellows time."
Not a single response.
"Little Anne, don't make the ogre come after you. Stop hiding."
No answer again.
Jack was worried at this point. He started walking, covering several kilometers in a few minutes. In the middle of the search, he stopped. He heard a crack and then a little laugh.
"Boo!," said Anne loudly as she jumped over her uncle from a leafy tree.
Jack cried as Anne usually did and whined:
"Would you like to be stuck in the woods forever?"
"No, Uncle, I'm sorry!"
"You almost made it possible. My heart was about to burst out of my mouth."
A few minutes later, everything calmed down and Anne insisted to her uncle:
"Come on, Jack! Let's go to the Silver Pond."
"No. There is no reason to go there now. Because of your little prank we should go home instead."
But Anne was determined and said:
"It will be nice, I promise. I've been there before and I could see myself in the water as an angel. I even saw my wings."
Uncle Jack laughed so hard that he chased away some hermit thrushes and made a couple of acorns feel on the leafy ground.
This caused Anne to become saddened and begin to sob. Uncle Jack had no choice but to play along to soothe her. Before long, they were both feeling the cool breeze that accompanies the existence of a pond. After leaving the last line of trees behind, Uncle Jack's jaw dropped as he gazed at the golden reflection of the moon on the silvery lagoon and the peacefulness with which fireflies flitted here and there.
"Uncle, isn't it the most beautiful place?"
"I can't believe my eyes."
"Come on, let's go, I want to know what you look like in the lagoon."
Uncle Jack was both afraid and curious. Anne's footsteps were long and hasty, while his were short and shaky. Anne's excitement almost caused them to take a dip, but her uncle stopped them in time. Then, he stared at her reflection in the water and nothing happened.
"See, silly? Your imagination is too big. Let's go back," said Uncle Jack triumphantly.
He turned to start walking, but Anne's sudden cry stopped him.
"What's the matter, Anne?" cried Jack worriedly.
"Look, Uncle, I look like an angel again" she answered with a giggle.
Jack hurried over and his face lit up as he saw his niece looking all white in the pond. He soon noticed his reflection, but his reaction was horror all the way. He was so shocked to see himself as a monster that he lost his balance and fell straight into the water.
His body did not stop on the shore, but descended and descended, as if the pond was infinitely deep. Anne did not understand what was happening. That's why the little animals in the lagoon kept telling her:
"To bring him back, take this rod."
"What am I supposed to do?"
"Cast the hook, girl!"
"I've already done it, now what?"
"Wait for him to take the bait... if he can see it, of course."
In the meantime Uncle Jack had finally hit bottom. He opened his eyes slowly to voices calling him repeatedly: "Jack, little Jack", "Jack, man, it's time".
When he had fully awakened he saw a big fish, a toad and a water spider. All dressed in fancy tuxedos and very serious.
"Where am I, who are you people?" asked Jack in anguish.
"If I were you, I'd worry more about you than us" said the big frog.
"What is all this about?" continued the poor Jack in anguish.
The big fish replied:
"This is a judgment of you against you. It is time for you to face the monster you have become."
"Monsters you are!" scoffed Uncle Jack at once.
The water spider laughed and said:
"You are wrong. We, the guarantors of natural tranquility, listen to the Pond."
"What do you mean?"
"The Pond welcomes those who can be saved," said the fish.
"But I have done nothing wrong."
"If you reflected yourself as a monster above, surely you have" said the toad.
"My God, this must be a bad dream."
"Your brother has been living in a bad dream ever since you left him with strangers because you wanted to be a ranger."
"He left me no choice. He was always very naughty and I can't stand that."
"But your ranger masters did have patience with your mischief when you first started."
"Argh, you guys are lying. What would you know?"
"We know that you ignored your sick father, too."
"He ignored me in my youth."
"Remember when your darling little daughter, Mary, was there for you when you came home drunk? You remember? She could have ignored you too, but she taught you, instead, to take care of people even when they don't deserve it."
"She was just trying to...."
"She wanted you to act with love! Forget the excuses. Look into yourself!"
After a deep reflective silence, Uncle Jack asked:
"How do I stop being this monster? Should I look for the cure in books or at the doctor's? Should I buy it somewhere, rather?"
"No. You still don't understand. You are pointing too far away."
"Where should I aim then?"
"Forgive yourself," suggested the big fish with a smile on his mouth.
"Accept yourself. Accept your bad deeds and let peace spread within you," the toad croaked firmly.
Uncle Jack knelt down and cried an equal pond in which he was immersed while asking forgiveness to those he had failed before. In this trance, he saw an intense white light and from it came a long diamond thread. As soon as he could, he reached for it and the intense light covered everything until he could hardly see anything.
A while later, Uncle Jack opened his eyes and discovered that he was lying in his room, on his humble bed, feeling lighter than usual. He could only see the ceiling, but his niece's voice shook him:
"Uncle, are we really going to the forest today? I can't wait to go camping with my cousin Mary."