Updated with edited version on Jan. 22, 2011
Five-year-old Amberlin watched as her favorite ducky drifted towards the spiraling whirlpool as the water drained from the mammoth Victorian-style tub. As the clockwise current of water drew the floating toy into its influence, she smiled and waved her index finger in a counterclockwise motion, then giggled lightly as the spout changed direction and the toy duck followed suit soon after. After a few moments, Amberlin stopped her finger, and the water quickly resumed its customary clockwise motion, until once again she impressed her own will upon the water. She continued playing like this for several moments, enchanted by the game without noticing her grandmother, Rose, quietly observing her, until suddenly…
“What in God’s name are you doing? Oh my Lord,” Rose shrieked. “Herb, Herb. Come in here at once,” She yelled to her husband, but even before he arrived, she took matters into her own age-spotted hands, as she was accustomed to doing. “You stop that right now, you hear. That’s a bad girl.” Rose grabbed Amberlin’s pudgy hand with the offending index finger and slapped it sharply across the knuckles. “You mustn’t do such things. Dear God… Herb, Herb. Are you coming?” Amberlin tried to stifle her cry of alarm and pain, but a whimper escaped despites her best effort. As she tried to pull her hand from danger, a pair of tears escaped, coursing down her ruddy cheeks.
“What’s all the ruckus about, Rose?” Herb Gentry asked as he hurried down the corridor from their bedroom.
“It’s your granddaughter. It’s started… already. She’s only five and it’s already begun. Do you have any idea what this means? She’s… she’s…” but Rose couldn’t finish the sentence. She yanked a large pink towel from the rack, and dragged the young girl from the tub, wrapping her in the towel.
“Oh, Rose, calm yourself and tell me what you’re talking about.” Herb smiled reassuringly at his granddaughter, who continued to fight back the tears, the words of her beloved grandmother reverberating in her mind, “That’s a bad girl.”
Rose grabbed her husband’s shoulder. Herb winced from the intensity of the grip. Rose bit her lower lip, the lipstick applied early that morning long ago worn away, and tried again. “She’s only five, and it’s already started. I was almost twelve before Satan tempted me, and Evelyn had just turned ten when the curse first visited her. Now, here’s her daughter changing the course of her bath water with the flick of her finger. Oh, Lord, what are we going to do?”
Unaccustomed to seeing his wife so emotionally distraught yet finding it oddly humorous, Herb tried to keep from smiling, knowing it would be like trying to put out the flame of a candle by pouring gasoline on it. He gently took Amberlin from Rose’s arms, as he replied, “Well, to start with, we won’t panic. We don’t really know if Amberlin is exhibiting special talents or not.”
“But I saw it. The water was turning in its proper direction as God intended, then she waved her finger and reversed the flow. Water all over the world flows either clockwise or counter-clockwise, Herb, depending on which side of the equator you’re talking about. That’s the way God intended it to be.”
Allowing himself just the hint of a smile, Herb gently rocked Amberlin to calm her, as he caressed her golden curls dampened by the tub water. “Well, it’s a bit of an old wives’ … uh, a misconception to think that all whirlpools turn in the same direction. I wrote an article a few years ago on why cyclones rotate clockwise in the southern hemisphere, and counterclockwise in the northern and found out during my research that it’s due to the inertial force of the rotating Earth, but it takes a tremendous amount of air or water for it to take effect. For smaller amounts, like the water in Amberlin’s tub, there are many factors that could have influenced the direction including the shape of the container it’s in, other currents, etc. Who knows? She could have been moving her toes in the water which created a new water current that affected the direction of the draining water, and that would hardly take God’s or Satan’s intervention.
The logic quieted Rose, probably more from confusion than understanding.
“Now, go get ready for bed, and I’ll tuck Amberlin in. It’s all going to be okay.” Herb shared another reassuring smile with both of them. Only Amberlin smiled back.
“Yea, Papa Herb’s gonna put me to bed,” she said. Placing her head on his shoulder she tried unsuccessfully to stifle a yawn.
“That’s right, Dear Heart. I’ll be tucking you in tonight.”