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QuickFiction – The River

June 8, 2011

The River

James went down to the river every day. The grass was green there, the trees were young and virile, and the water was dark, blue, and still. It was relaxing. To him it was perfect.

He would recline under a large weeping willow. The tree’s tendrils hung over him dipping into the calm waters close to the bank. I was told he was a very busy young man, but I just couldn’t see it.

I was the one who would fetch him and I would usually find him sitting in the same place. His smart grey coat would be neatly folded next to his black business shirt. He kept his matching grey pants on and his socks. His shoes, tied by the laces, he hung from a low branch. He used to fish, or pretend to, but he gave up bringing his rod. All his time was now devoted to staring into the blue deep.

The days were long gone where I tried to talk to him. The longest conversation we had consisted of five short sentences. My best option was to wait for him to stand up and dress himself. I would wait for over an hour sometimes, but I didn’t complain. It was a beautiful place. Despite this queer habit his job was secure. Some said that he was a genius. Some said other things.

When I went to fetch him yesterday he was not in his usual place. I found him standing waist deep in the waters, naked and shivering. He wasn’t crying, but he looked like he could. I had seen him crying once before at work two years ago. He leant on my shoulder and collapsed and I had to take him home. Ever since then he has been coming down to this place and I have been picking him up.

I waded into the water and helped him out. I never asked him why he came down here and I didn’t start now. I just wrapped him up in a blanket and soon enough he settled himself and began dressing. We walked up to my car and drove to work. Maybe I should have said something to him. But it mightn’t have worked. I could never reach him before.

This morning I was running late but it didn’t stop me from strolling. When I arrived I found his smart grey coat. It was folded neatly on the grass next to his black business shirt. His matching grey pants were laid out too and his socks were thrown around carelessly. His shoes hung as usual from the same low branch, tied by the laces. But James was gone.

I looked around for a bit, and then gave up. I stood on the edge of the river. It was wide and calm as stone. The sun shone brightly in a clear sky, yet the water was as dark as usual. I stood and just stared into it for a while. I felt that it could cover and hide anything. I can’t help but think that maybe James felt the same thing.

AJG

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