[Every year the children play for hours in a hotel swimming pool on holidays with their parents in Israel. One year ] . . . my brother and I discovered that the pool was full of money—shekels everywhere, shimmering mutely on the floor of the pool, as if the drain were hooked up to Bank Hapoalim. Whatever lingering fears I had about swimming were shunted aside by the steady flow of cash we could turn up. As in any well-run operation, we soon divided and specialized: my brother, two years older, became the diver, and I, with a smaller lung capacity and keener eyes, became the spotter. At my direction, he would plunge down and grope around at the blurry bottom. If I had been right, as I was about sixty-five percent of the time, he would burst excitedly to the surface, clutching the coin.
One afternoon after a string of false calls I began to feel desperate. The day was wearing on, and our time in the pool was almost up. My brother was wading morosely along the wall of the shallow end. I couldn’t help myself, and from the middle of the pool shouted: “There!” I was lying—I’d seen nothing—but I couldn’t resist the chance to make my brother happy again. He came splashing toward me. “Right there!” I yelled.
He went below. I knew there was nothing at the bottom, and now, treading water at the top, I waited miserably for my brother to find out, too. The crushing guilt I felt in those few moments comes vividly back even more than thirty years later. It was one thing to lie to my parents, but to so blatantly betray my brother was something else again.
As for what happened next, I have no explanation for it. Or none beyond the possibility that the laws we cling to in order to assure ourselves that all is as it seems have occluded a more complex view of the universe, one that forgoes the comfort of squeezing the world to fit the limited reach of our comprehension. Otherwise, how else to explain that when my brother surfaced and uncurled his fingers, lying in his palm was an earring with three diamonds and, beneath them, hanging from a gold loop at the bottom, a ruby heart?
Nicole Krauss, Forest Dark