A porcelain ditch sat pulled through a small town on the edges of the New River, surrounding the city were puffy hills covered in mature trees. Dragged into the distance in both directions, the object was a mystery to all and ignored by most. In town of Pembroke most of their waking life was spent working – until spring vacation.
Our story focuses on two of the Pembroke kids, whom had grown up near each other. Their knack for adventure landed them stranded in the foothills past the lighting of the street lamps. No police were called, but butts were spanked. Sal, the older of the two pondered day and night over the tub. It haunted his dreams and collected itself like a swelling ball inside this mind – he’d catch himself watching the way the leaves or snow fell and wondered where they’d end up after falling into the tub. Sal would cast small paper boats into the tub’s shallow water, keeping a watchful eye until his eyes couldn’t separate the alabaster sides of the vessel from the notebook paper boat.
Henry, the younger and lesser of the dreamers couldn’t care less about it. He kept at Sal that it was just always there, will always be there and wouldn’t lead to anywhere interesting. He was always bringing Sal back down to earth – burying his dreams of finding the end of the tub.
Spring sprung in Pembroke and the week’s vacation for all the middle school kids had broken out. All winter long Sal watched the flakes melt and collect in the basin that ran through their town and he hatched an idea to explore the tub.
Sal and Henry walked over the small wooden bridge over the tub they took every day on their way home from school.
They stopped in the middle of the tiny foot bridge. “Meet me back here tomorrow. We’re going…” Sal trailed off and looked out to the horizon where there white tank seemed to split the tree coated hills forever.
Henry knew he’d have to go along and tired to think of some excuse. “What about food Sal? Huh? Our parents, they’ll lose it.” He did all he could to reel him back, but somehow Henry knew this would prove fruitless. Sal was going this time if Henry came along or not. “What do we tell ‘um?”
“We’ll say we’re spending the night at each other’s place. After the second night they’ll just think we’re spending spring break at each other’s house.” Sal’s face fixated on the far hills, and the thin ivory line stretching into infinity.
“Tomorrow?” Henry was ready to go home.
“Yeah, early. Pack for a hike Henry, not for a slumber party.”
Henry was already walking away and said over his shoulder: “Got is Sal. Tomorrow!”
That night, Sal was restless. The growing idea of this tub had been brewing away in his young mind for as long as he can remember. He packed his bag first thing getting home, laying out each piece, a small pillow, his pocket knife, a small pad of paper and pen, socks, granola bars, a few changes of clothes, and his sleeping bag. Imagining the end of the tub was filling his mind; a simple drain, a hole to the ends of the earth, maybe it just wrapped all the way around the world. It was part of who Sal was, finding out about the tub. No one in town ever talked about it and even acted as though it was a normal fixture to have, like a tree or bush in your yard, something that placed itself against the scenery and backdrop of everyday life. Sal cannot ignore it anymore, the hollow space it carves into his world, was coming to a point. Something was out there and they were going to find out what.
The first morning birds spotted the sun before Sal finally fell asleep.