Above The Riffle, Part Four of Four
Sam did not own a dress suit. A white shirt with worn cuffs and a hand me down faded black tie is all he ever needed when he went to Sunday meetin’. He fumbled with his tie as he approached the shiny, finished wooden coffin that Rachel lay in. He hesitated for a moment as his father gently placed his hand on his shoulder. In a quiet voice the tall man knelt down beside his son and said, “It is all right Sam. It is time to say goodbye to Rachel.” His father gently squeezed his shoulder and said, “I will walk with you.” Together they walked to where Sam could see her face. He could feel the overwhelming emotion building as the tears began to roll down his tan cheeks. He turned to his parents who held their son but could not stop this pain.
Later that afternoon Rachel was laid to rest in the small graveyard atop the hill overlooking the creek. Sam did not remember much after the pain at the coffin. He went blank inside to help ease the pain. He sat on the porch with his dog at his side until the last moments of the sun faded into the darkness. Somehow the night was darker than he had ever remembered it.
A few weeks passed and the first leaves began to change to fall colors. Sam had not returned to the place above the riffles since the accident. He had told himself he would never return to that place as long as he lived.
That evening at the supper table Sam’s parents had something to tell the quiet young man. “Sam we have some news for you. An old army buddy of your father has a large farm in Ohio and wants your father to come and manage it for him.” Sam at first did not seem to realize what his mother had said. After a moment he asked, “But who would take care of this farm?”
His father reached out and touched his wife’s hand and Sam’s arm and said, “This will always be our true home, but this is to give you a chance to go to school and build a good life. Your mother and I want you to have a better life than we can give you here.”
A few weeks before, Sam would have been unhappy to leave his home and the riffle. But now he only felt pain in this place. He smiled for the first time in several weeks and shook his head yes.
“We have one request of you before we leave for our new lives; go back to the head of the riffle one last time.” Sam hesitated as he rubbed his dog’s head. After a short pause he looked up at his parents. He indicated he would.
It took some doing but Sam made his way down the long dirt path toward the creek. The golden leaves of the big poplar trees were falling, slowing and gliding into the creek. The lack of rain had caused the riffle to almost dry completely up in the September sun.
Sam walked slowly up the dry rocks of the creek bed until he could see the quiet deep water at the top of the riffle. He sat down on his rock as his dog rolled in the warm sand of the beach. The water was still warm because the cool fall rains had not yet come and filled the creek. He sat there with his feet barely in the water. As he had many times before, he picked up a small stone and threw toward the far bank.
The stone hit the water with a small splash and the rings from the splash slowly started to circle out, coming toward Sam sitting at the edge of the water. He watched as the first ring approached and then touched his foot.
If was as if time had stopped. In the distance, someone surfaced from the dark water. Sam could not believe his eyes. No. It can’t be. But it was. As if it never happened, Rachel surfaced and swam toward a stunned Sam.
Sam stood up and backed away from the water. “No. You are not real. You can not be here. You died.” The young lady walked to the edge of the water and said, “I can not leave the water Sam, this is now my home.” She held out her hand to a frightened young man.
But Sam’s love for Rachel soon melted his fear and their hands touched. “Sam, swim with me one last time before you leave this place.” Sam never questioned how she knew he was soon to leave for a new home.
The two swam and talked of the past summer, neither asking why this was happening nor what of the future. It was the only moment they had, and they would share it together forever.
As the sun dipped behind the hill Rachel told Sam, “It is time for both of us to go.” Sam was not going to say good bye without one kiss from his first love. She felt cool as he held her close and kissed her for the first and last time in this life.
Rachel turned and dove into the dark creek, leaving only a gentle ripple of water as she disappeared. That was nearly 70 years ago.
Sam and his parents left for their new life early the next morning. He honored his parent’s dream of finishing school and going onto to college. He also fulfilled Rachel’s dream and became a veterinarian and helped animals for over 50 years.
Now Sam, feeble by time and changed by the passing years, had returned to this child hood place, to see if she is still here after all these years.
He picked up a small round stone and tossed it into the water. As he watched, the rings of water began to spread across the surface coming toward him. The small ripple slowly approached and then touched his feet. At that moment, time once again stood still and from the dark depths Rachel appeared from the green water. She looked just as Sam remembered her all those years ago.
She swam until she could walk in the shallow to Sam. Rachel held out her hand to the old man. As they touched he felt the years fade away. Looking down into the water the reflection was if he was 16 once again. He held Rachel tight and they both felt the warmth of their love as they stood in the dark green waters.
Together they swam off in the quiet pool of water at the deep end of the riffle toward their rock in the warm sun.
The next day they went looking for Sam. They found his shoes sitting neatly on a rock and footprints of a man and a dog in the sand. A small bunch of blue water flowers lay on the stone next to the riffle. But there was no sign of the old man.
They say, on a warm August afternoon, when the cicadas are singing in the sycamores and the crayfish hunt in the shallow pools of the riffles, you can still hear the sounds of laughter above the riffle.
The laughter and love shared between a boy named Sam and a girl named Rachel still alive as you look Thru The Lens.