By Joan Stephens

Whistling softly to myself, I hurry through the tunnels on my way to my favorite place: the natural stone bench in the Chamber of the Falls. But she is there. Everywhere I go, she is there, following me with those big blue eyes of hers. What a pest. I heard Mother tell Father that she thought that Cathy had a crush on me. Hmph! Girls! What good are they? They just get in the way and spoil your fun. But she’s not going to keep me from going where I want. This is my place.

I sneak up behind her and scare the living bejeepers out of her. That’ll teach her. Only she doesn’t leave and now I’m stuck. I gotta talk with her. Mom says it’s important to be polite. So I ask her what she’s doing and she says, “Nothing. Just listening to the voices in the falls.”

“Wow! You hear them, too?” I ask. I thought I was the only one who heard them.

“All the time,” she answers, her eyes aglow with excitement. She asks me, “Do you wonder who they are? And why they’re in the falls?” Her blue eyes sparkle with wonder and delight.

Trying to act wise and thoughtful, I pause and ponder for several minutes. Unlike most girls I know, she waits patiently but expectantly. At last, I answer, “I think they lived and died beside the river and they loved it. So when they died, the river took their life songs into itself, and now they sing for those who can hear.”

“Oh Jacob, that’s beautiful,” she cries. I see tears gather in her eyes. Oh darn, she’s going to cry. But she quickly turns her head and wipes them away.

Soon we’re talking about everything and I find she has a quick and lively mind. I listen, fascinated, as she reveals to me thoughts and feelings she has never told anyone else. And she is so easy to talk with that I find myself doing the same. We spend hours together talking until my pesky younger brother comes to tell me that Dad is looking for me. Reluctantly, I leave. At the entrance I turn; she has followed me with her eyes, but this time it doesn’t bother me. I smile at her and her answering smile lights up the whole cavern. Maybe girls aren’t so bad after all.