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August 22, 2012 / Ronald Chapman

Anger Affecting Others

Pitcairn slumped instantly, but before the sobs he felt boiling up could take hold, rage ripped through him. His heart raced as he leapt to his feet and charged toward a ledge of rock, the cell phone clinched in his hand. Nearing the layered limestone, he hurled the phone. It sailed inaccurately above the intended target, tore through stems of tall grass and disappeared down the slope beyond.

He stormed over the ledge, stomping through the grass looking for the phone. Thwarted, he bellowed his frustration while moving closer to the creek, sweeping his feet widely before him in the hope of seeing the phone in the grass.

At the lip of creek, which proved to be a steep drop off of seven or eight feet, he peered down. Three upturned and terrified faces stared at him. The boys’ eyes darted wildly, searching for an escape from this madman. They knelt on another ledge of porous stone that traced the edge of the creek. They must have been exploring, and now clearly felt trapped.

Pitcairn lurched to a stop, caught now by this unexpected mirror. He slowly drew a ragged breath then extended his hand slowly toward them. “I’m sorry, boys. It’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you.”

They were profoundly still and wordless. He began to kneel to get closer to them, his hand still outstretched, but now lightly trembling. They would have to reach up if he were to assist them.

The boy in the middle suddenly yelped and bolted backward, causing his friend behind him to tumble from the rock into the water. Pitcairn was in motion immediately, jumping down to the ledge toward the child who floundered in the water as the two other boys scattered screaming. He stepped down into the creek, which proved to be a pool five feet deep, and carefully reached to wrap his arm around the boy. Though sputtering from the water that he’d sucked into his mouth, the boy managed a shrill screech and fought with underwater kicks and flailing arms. These pushed him from Pitcairn and propelled him the short distance across the water where he quickly scrambled from the creek and up this more gently sloping bank. Screaming with terror, the boy raced away.

Pitcairn stood in the middle of the creek, water almost to his shoulders, shaking with adrenaline. He remained absolutely still, without a thought, for what seemed a long time before he returned to himself. His memory was flooded with recollections of all the times as a child and youth he had felt that kind of terror. It was not a pleasant thought.

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