A Bend in the River

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Edmund revisits the past

A Bend in the River

Edmund stood in the airport parking lot. It was baking hot. The runway shimmered in wavy lines, and out on the the interstate, the cars inched by in a haze. Edmund stood in his heavy business suit, his collar choking his neck.

A huge jet landed. The hydraulic breaks made a hinging whine, and Edmund thought about the river where he grew up. There was a bend in the river where flat rocks lay like giant hands beneath the water. On a hot day, he’d lay on a rock and let the cool, shallow river wash over him.

The bend in the river created a deep pool. It was cool and wonderful. And there was a huge, old sycamore tree where they’d hung up a rope swing. In his mind, Edmund grabbed onto that rope and took a flying run at the water. He sailed out, kicking and flailing, then splashed in the pool. He plunged in the wonderful water and came up to his laughing friends.

Dripping and happy, they’d run up the bank and jump in again. But there was that one girl – Mary. She came in their senior year to live with her grandma, she never would take the rope and sail out. “Come on,” he’d say, trying to coax her, but she shook her head and waved him away.

The plane taxied into the terminal and Edmund came back to the parking lot. He checked his pockets, locked his car, and hoisted his heavy shoulder bag. Another long flight lay ahead, another angry business meeting, followed by the same boring hotel. The excitement of his job had faded. But, that day, as he set off toward the terminal, the cool, rushing river washed over him. Stepping lightly, he wondered if the bend in the river still existed.

* * *

Mary stood in the high school parking lot with her hand on her car. The hot heat of the asphalt gave off a tarry smell as high school seniors hollered and whooped. It was the last day of school and their voices cried in excitement. Mary opened the back of her car to a blast of cooked air and wedged in her box of teaching supplies.

Another year of teaching had ended, her tenth year actually, a full decade. A carload of senor’s drove by honking and happy. “Swimming!” they shouted and, for some reason, Mary thought about when she lived with her grandma by the river.

There were all those flat rocks in the water and after school everybody lay down and let the water rush over them. And there was that one boy, Edmund, always wanting her to sail out on the rope swing. “Come on” he’d grin, but in her shyness, she’d shake her head pretending not to want to.

She did want to. Mary watched Edmund pull back on the rope with his happy grin, then with bright eyes he’d run at the river. Flail out, all arms and legs and splash in the swirling pool. Now, as Mary sat in her broiling car, she wished that all those years ago when he said “Come on” that she’d grabbed that rope and sailed with him.

* * *

Edmund unlocked his car in the airport parking lot and shoved in his travel bag. Now that his business trip was over, he had three days off. Out on the runway, a plane lifted skyward, silver and bright in the sun. He took off his rumpled coat, unbuttoned his collar, and slid in the driver’s seat. The hot heat sweltered as he thought of the bend in the river and the cool washing water.

He put his hands on the blistering steering wheel and remembered lying on the giant stones and letting the clear, cold river rush over him. Was it still there?

He turned the key in the ignition as a thought came to him – the river was six hours away. He drove slowly onto the interstate, blending in with the other cars, but then he thought about running down to the river and sailing out over that rushing water. Edmund gripped tight to the steering wheel. With incredible excitement, he drove toward the river.

* * *

Mary awoke with a start. In her dream she was holding onto a rope and flying out over the river. She wanted to let go. “Come on,” the boy grinned, but she gripped tight. It was so real, his face there smiling, the same boy from all those years ago. “Come on,” he yelled and she wanted to let go, but in her dream she held on.

Wide awake with her whole heart pounding, Mary gasped for breath as the pale white walls of her bedroom came into focus. She wanted to fly off free in the river. She wanted to splash in the pool. Then, suddenly, it came in a flash. She could drive four hours and visit her grandma. She could walk down to the river, grab that rope and sail out.

* * *

Edmund lay on a wide flat rock as the river washed over him. It was exactly the same. The water rippled and gushed as the sunlight shone through the trees. He felt happy and wonderful.

A group of kids trooped down the riverbank. He heard them shouting and laughing and then, one by one, they caught onto the rope swing and sailed into the river. Their voices called out like yesterday, and Edmund propped on his elbow to watch.

Then a woman stood at the rope swing. She was about his same age and her eyes were bright with excitement. She pulled on the swing, walked up the river bank, and with a wild racing lunge sailed out over the water. She shrieked with high glee, splashed in the pool and came up  in the sun.

Edmund gasped. She looked like that Mary from all those years ago. She looked so familiar that Edmund walked to the edge of the pool. When she came dripping out of the river, he said, “Mary?” 

“Edmund?” she stood soaking wet and smiling.

They both laughed. That bright, happy surprise of two shocked people who find each other. Who settle down beside the river talking and catching up, and then they fall in love and live happily forever and ever.


Submitted: March 28, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Suzanne Mays. All rights reserved.

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Comments

D Mays

Years ago we kids had a swimming spot too. It was called John's pond. No rope swing but a place to go. Good story. Thanks for taking me back there.

Mon, March 29th, 2021 11:30am

Suzanne Mays

We had a rope swing in the woods - this big tree - and we'd fly through the air. Thank you for reading and commenting. It's nice to think back.

Mon, March 29th, 2021 1:37pm

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