An uncertain future

viet-namWillie and Fran liked to picnic on their favorite granite bluff. It overlooked the Atlantic Ocean. Warm summer updrafts carried the sound of waves up from below. The last time they visited what they called their “private place,” they made love.

No one noticed, not a soul; not even the birds. Their picnic wine sparkled in the sun. After lunch, they talked for a little while, and then went silent. Sounds that lovers make blended with a seagull chorus. The soft rumbling waves  below, became part of their  their ocean-side symphony. Spent/ they edged toward the rim of a granite outcrop. Looking out from their private place, the sandy shoreline below went on forever.

“Isn’t this beautiful?” Fran said. Willie propped his chin on one elbow, and drew in a deep breath.

“Yes, honey. It is. I’ve dreamed of this place. A sad dream. One I can’t shake free. I’m in our private peace and I look down from the bluff. A giant rolling whitecap crashes loud on the hard-packed sand. It sounds like a huge canvas of a painted flower being ripped apart along its petal length.”

Fran touched his cheek and thought, “How can I not love this man?”

And from that day forward, she wrote to him every Sunday. Willie came home from Viet Nam three years later. The loss of one his hands and a leg mattered not. They embraced tight for three full minutes. Tears of love and sweetest joy bathed each other’s shoulders.

The lovers never returned to their bluff overlooking the ocean. It wasn’t necessary. Their private place had become almost sacred in their hearts. And they kept the memory of it locked away forever.

 

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The great flood

Flood

The torrential rain had let up, and David Lahey stood on a riverbank above the rushing, brown waters. His breath came in heaves; he’d run about a hundred yards downriver. He hoped to snag an upturned sofa with his hands or a long branch. He HAD to grab it somehow, and rescue Mattie, the love of his life.

Thunder crashed and strips of lightening danced on the early morning horizon, and still no sign of the floating sofa. Household debris seemed to float by more rapidly now, and the frothy Killmore river waters slammed the junk against tree trunks and automobiles with stove in doors and front ends.

David looked upriver and called as loud as he could. “MATTIE! MATTIE, CAN YOU HEAR ME? MAAAAAAAAATTIE!” The only response was the gurgling of the Killmore waters, and the creaking and scraping of litter being deposited on the riverbank below.

 David began to tremble; the warmth had left his sodden clothes. Somewhere he’d lost his shoes. He HAD to find her, she HAD to be able to hold on to her floating sofa. “MAAAAAATTIE!” He shouted again.

 Mattie appeared, riding the sofa, on the far side of the river. “MAAAAAATTIE, MAAAAAATTIE, OVER HERE!” He bellowed.

 The crashing waters muffled his cries, and Mattie heard nothing. She clung to the sofa. Her hair was wet, tangled, and plastered across her face. She struggled to stay aboard the unsteady sofa she rode.

 David watched the sofa bump into a semi-submerged object, change course, and make a slight turn in his direction. The current now carried the sofa, and Mattie, toward his side of the river.

 Lahey scrambled over a guardrail and slid down the side of the riverbank. He tried to calculate Mattie’s direction of travel, and figured he could wade a short way into the current and grab the sofa as it passed by.

 “MAAAAAATTIE!” He called again. And still, she heard not. He could see her clearly now. Her eyes were white with fright, and she held tightly to the pitching and swirling upturned sofa. The wind had picked up, and white caps formed on river waves. Flotsam began to accumulate on the shore, and David stepped in and around it, out into the murky depths. He grabbed a thick tree branch that floated by, and quit moving when the water reached his waste.

 The sofa, and Mattie, came directly at him, and seemed to slow down. “MATTIE!” He shouted, and her head spun round at his call. She raised up and shook her head trying to clear the hair from her eyes.

 David drove his branch into the muddy river bottom, extended his free hand, and grabbed hold of the floating sofa. The current turned the piece of furniture around, and David struggled to haul it to the shoreline.

 A brilliant sun broke through pewter clouds. The wind ceased, and a heavy wetness permeated the air around the floodwaters.

 David didn’t notice a think. He sat in the sunshine with his arms around the love of his life. She was safe now; she and he were once again united. Nothing in the world would ever separate them again. And ever so slowly, David and his dog climbed the side of the river bank.