The River

The River


As the river winds around its path it brings with it life to many creatures, I wonder how many lives it has taken? Sitting at the water’s edge has always been my deepest need at the end of the day. I am eternally grateful to my dad for giving me his place. Long after my mother passed away dad took it upon himself to build his retreat from the compression of the city. I do not mind the hour drive to work as long as when I come home I can sit at the water’s edge.

The weekend gives its magic by allowing me to start and finish my day at the water’s edge. Friday did not come soon enough as I sit here I realize even more the need for me to find work outside the oppressive pressure the city inflicts on me. People have changed over time. It seems there is no longer the same value for life, respect for others or even simple courtesy of saying excuse me. Rage is just beneath the surface of those who walk the streets.

I was standing a foot away from her when it happened. My arms hung helplessly at my side when the man punctured her lung with the knife, he turned to me I quickly took the knife from him and had him to the ground when the police came. My training in the Marines had saved my life yet I feel I should have acted quicker to save the young woman’s life. I did not see it coming; the man came walking nonchalantly giving no indication he was going to take her life. I looked him in the eyes when I took him down. There was no remorse, in fact, he seemed pleased with himself. He had a cold dark stare of amusement as he said, Allah Akbar. I have seen those eyes too many times in others I cannot bring myself to count nor do I want to remember the carnage eyes like that can bring upon a community.

I understood why my dad built this place he too was a Marine. There is a saying once a Marine always a Marine I truly believe that is so. When mom was ill dad was at her side and was her caretaker. He knew basic palliative care he learned as a Marine. You needed to know certain things in case one of your team was in need of emergency care before the medic got to you.

Mom died of cancer, my dad felt helpless there was no tourniquet that could keep cancer from spreading, draining the life out of her one day at a time.

When I arrived back at work after the incident out on the street I was applauded as a hero I felt like a failure. My boss told me to take the rest of the day off. I gave him a nod and said I would be taking all of the following week off as well.

Tonight’s thoughts are weighing heavily upon me the water usually has a calming effect but instead, the current is hammering away rather pulling away my day. My mind is replaying the events of the day; all the should have, could haves will never be quenched. I slowly tipped back the Jack Daniels allowing the burning liquid to take effect, numbing my thoughts.

My wife left me 6 months ago she could no longer take my sullen disposition when events not under my control bring me to the water’s edge with my best friend Jack Daniels. I would drink myself into a stupor and tonight will be no different. I expect to wake up damp and chilled, crawl up the hill to the house and flop on the sofa until I feel halfway human again.

The sound was sharp and came from the north; the fog in my brain slowed my reaction. When my eyes opened I saw a slight figure hanging from a limb above the water’s edge. It suddenly occurred to me that there was a girl hanging from the limb crying. I jumped up swam across to position myself under her. She let go of the limb just as I arrived. I reached out just as her head went below the surface. As I pulled her up she fought me with all her strength. I did not give into her fists nor her cries to let her go.  Once I got her to the bank she stopped hitting me and just sobbed.

“Why did you do that? I did not want to come out of the water.” She said

“I could not let you drift down this current to disappear without someone showing they cared enough for you to pull you to safety,” I answered

She was silent as she stared up at me and she finally said: “Thank you for caring, but why should you care if I don’t?”

“No one was here for my father when he no longer cared. He must have thought no one else cared either. I cared. I still care.” I said

We introduced ourselves and I shared what was left of the Jack Daniels. She told me she lost her sister today someone had walked up to her and stabbed her puncturing her lung. My heart finally felt relief and I felt the river take my sorrow away. I told her what I had done and apologized for not acting fast enough to save her sister’s life. She forgave me. That was exactly what I needed. Forgiveness.




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