Submitted into Contest #98 in response to: Set your story on (or in) a winding river.... view prompt


Fiction Happy


The beginning of a story

This isn’t so bad after all. Getting to see everyone without being seen, hearing everything without them noticing. I’ve been part of so many stories and, in some of those, I’ve even played a crucial role. The things I’ve seen are as infinite as the sky above me. Although, it can get very boring sometimes.

Right now, I’m waiting for the next story to happen. Today, finally, the main characters get to meet each other. A girl has been coming over here to fetch water from the river, she must be watering her plants or giving it to her pets. There’s also a boy who has been crossing the river every now and then to see someone, although the other part has not showed up in a long time, I wish I could tell him that.

Today, they both coincided here. The boy just crossed the river and is drying at the sun, I can see the girl approaching from the path leading to her town.

The girl noticed the boy, she stopped in her steps, is she turning back? Oh, the boy turned around. Their eyes just met! Would it be love at first sight?

— Ah, I thought you were someone else.

The boy stood up, though he doesn’t seem to be interested in the girl. What will she do now?

— You come here often? — The girl asked.

— Yeah, just…Sometimes. — The boy replied, facing the path behind her.

— I come here sometimes too, to fetch some water. My father says it’s medicinal, but he’s too busy to come here, so I help him out.

Silence. The boy is not interested in the talk at all. Doesn’t he know to be polite?

— Hey! What are you looking at? — The girl asked, turning to look at the path too.

— I’m waiting for someone. You live on the small town over there, don’t you?

— Yes, I do. The person you’re waiting for also lives there?

— Yeah! Her name is Anne, do you know her?

— Anne? Hmm…

The girl scratched her head and looked around. Her eyes fell on me, her gaze lost as she replied.

— I don’t think I’ve heard that name before. I thought I knew everyone in town, but I don’t know any Anne, sorry.

That day, the boy went home almost in tears, while the girl returned with her usual cheerful walk.

Ah, this month has been particularly hot. I hope it rains soon, or I’m afraid I’ll dry out before the end of summer. With a weather like this, I was not expecting for the story to develop any further since humans don’t like to go out when it’s hot. But, the girl has been coming twice as frequently, and the boy is showing up every day on the other side of the winding river. He doesn’t cross anymore, but I guess he still hopes to see that Anne he mentioned, waiting for him. For the way he looks at her, something tells me he’s also coming to see the girl.

Memories of the past

I remember that woman. Anne is her name, huh? She’s actually the boy’s mother, although it doesn’t look like he knows that. Probably because Anne was very poor, she gave her baby away as soon as he was born. She gave him away in front of me. A married couple took him to the other side of the river. That day, Anne just cuddled near me and cried until she fell asleep. Since then, Anne used to come almost every day, hoping one day she’d get to see her boy on the other side. As she told me one day, she knew the couple who took her boy lived on the nearest town on the other side of the river, so it wouldn’t be strange to see the boy playing on the other side.

Years later, on a cold spring morning, she came here as usual, sat next to me and carefully watched the river. A small boy with a hair as yellow as hers showed up on the other side, she recognized him immediately. I saw her hold her tears, though she couldn’t hold back the huge smile on her face. She watched the boy play all day, waving at him sometimes when he looked in her direction. Since that day on, the boy showed up every other day and played with the woman, each on their side of the river. Anne could barely contain herself from crossing the river, but she didn’t want to scare him away.

I remember her words that time, “even if we see each other every day, I can’t just take him with me, or even go to his side. I’m nothing for him.”

Even so, she was happy with how things were, and those happy times lasted at least two years. Then, the boy grew bolder and decided to cross the river to meet the woman. After helping him cross, she hugged him for a long time. Anne was ecstatic when she finally got to touch him. That time, she couldn’t hold her tears. I was also very happy for her, it must’ve been hard for her to wait for so long.

The last time Anne came here, she sat on my shadow, her back lying against me, and cried for hours, she knew her son wouldn’t show up that day. She could hardly breath, but I was able to hear what she was telling me. Her family was moving away, she couldn’t stay alone in town and, even though that boy was her son, she could not take him with her. In the end, it was best if she disappeared now that he was still young, best for him to never know who she was. So, she moved away that day without saying goodbye.

The storyteller

The boy kept coming, even after the girl confirmed the woman named Anne had left town a long time ago. One day, while the girl was not around, he told me how he thought Anne would come back for him one day. So, he sat to my shadow every now and then, exactly as his mom used to do.

The girl’s name was Elena, and the boy was named Harry. Occasionally, she stayed a little longer after filling her buckets to talk with him. He would also go, even on busy days, just to meet with her.

I’m glad I’m the only of my kind by the river, I can give people the shadow they need, and, in exchange, they tell me their stories and share their doubts and fears. One of the best parts is to see relations develop and grow right by my shadow. Being the confident of so many lives feels like a big burden sometimes, but it makes me happy to see everything turning out fine.

This time, Elena and Harry decided to make this place their own, they met here whenever they had the chance, they talked about anything and everything, they shared the things they liked with each other. Over time, they both grew closer and, as expected, the joyous day of their wedding came very soon.

On a cold, starry night, they were hugging, lying against me and talking about their future.

— So what if we don’t want to stay here? My father just doesn’t understand. What can he know about the world if he’s never been out there?

— It’s okay, babe. He’ll understand.

— I don’t know, Harry. What if he doesn’t?

— He’s your father. He will always love you, no matter what.

Harry embraced Elena and pointed at the sky.

— Look, the stars are beautiful tonight, aren’t they?

Harry took something out of his pocket, it was a little green box. Out of the little box, he took a golden ring. Without a warning, Harry proposed to her, of course, Elena said yes without thinking twice. Also that night, they decided to move away after getting married. I was a bit sad to learn that Harry would no longer wait for his mother by the riverside, but it was time for them to move on.

The end

However, this story, unlike many I’ve seen, has a happy ending. After all, Harry and Elena moved back to their home town. They brought their little girl to play by the river every weekend, and I got to watch over her when they were too busy loving each other.

The best part, however, was what happened on the afternoon of a sunny day.

The family enjoyed a picnic by my shadow. Elena read a book while Harry sat next to her, contemplating the river, and little Gina ran in circles around me, giggling happily. There had been many moments like this since they returned, they brought life back to the riverside.

That day, from the other side of the river, a sound of rumbling alerted the family. Harry jumped up and got closer, the shadow on the other side started to take on a human shape. Soon after, a woman with burnt yellow hair appeared from among the trees. Harry recognized her immediately and called out to her without hesitating.

— Mom! — He kept yelling while jumping into the river. He had to hold the string tied across the river tightly as the current was particularly strong. The Joya river does know how to create drama whenever is needed. Anne jumped into the river after him, meeting him halfway. Right there, they hugged each other for dear life, crying and laughing. That scene will be forever embedded in my memory, and I’ll sure play it over and over for future generations.

June 17, 2021 19:34

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