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Kim stood at the kitchen window watching her daughter, Rita, who was playing by herself in the backyard. It was an almost too warm afternoon in late May. Rita had just lifted a large, flat rock near the chain link fence and was now looking intently at what lay beneath it. Kim remembered that when she was small, she also liked to lift rocks to see what she could find underneath: worms would struggle convulsively to pull themselves out of the way, sowbugs would roll up to avoid the perceived threat of sudden light, and, sometimes, if she happened upon the cross-section of an ant colony that was using the rock as its roof, she would see the workers begin to shuttle eggs to a less vulnerable place. But whatever she saw, it was always scuttling, always frantic, always so eager to get away. She had liked that. It gave her a feeling of power--benign power because, of course, she never squashed those ants or plucked those worms for fishing--but a feeling of power nonetheless.

Kim was distracted from her thoughts by Rita's sudden move to grab a smaller stone and begin to pound the ground that lay exposed beside the upended rock. Kim was surprised because usually Rita was a gentle observer, just as she herself had once been. "Rita!" she yelled through the window screen. "Don't be mean!" Rita kept up her pounding. "Rita!" Kim yelled and then decided to go out into the yard to see what Rita had found--maybe a small snake or a loathsome mass of wriggling grubs. She walked quickly out the back door and over to Rita's side, intending a quiet lecture on helpless creatures.

"Rita!" she said firmly and then looked down at the ground where Rita was pounding. Instead of a damp hollow where the rock had lain, she saw an oddly blurred patch of ground. It looked as though a tiny power loom was at work there, weaving earth-toned strands into a careful, if inscrutable, pattern. Kim had never seen anything like it under any of the rocks she had lifted as a child. "What is it, Rita?" she asked sharply. Rita just kept pounding.

Kim watched what she could see of the weaving beyond the rise and fall of the solid pink piece of granite Rita held in her small fist. There was certainly something unsettling about this weaving, if not, to be honest, disgusting. Not in the way that a boiling up of termites from the ground is disgusting or in the way that a mess of heaving maggots is. It was just that the dizzying weaving, in and out, over and under, through and through was enough to make you wonder what peace could ever be found if it spread. She tried to imagine the pages of a book, the car's steering wheel, the sides of a glass jar in constant restless motion. Weaving. The in and out of it, over and under. Disgusting.

She looked at the stone in Rita's hand again. It was a reassuring piece of granite, its molecules moving imperceptibly, without any striving, almost breathing weaving. She gazed for another long minute at that small spot of shuttling, boiling energy and then picked up a stone to join Rita. They pounded and pounded, making small, dry grunting noises from time to time, breaking a sweat under the warm yellow sun. They pounded, mother and daughter, as though they could somehow crush anxiety at its source.


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