Readers Cast


Richard A Taylor - August 15, 2011

Dalton and Emma stood on the river bank and gazed at the swallow-dipped ringlets expanding on the slack back water.

They never tired of the view or the whirring of wings overhead. It had repeated every season since they settled the hundred acre parcel fifty-two years this past spring.

Emma shivered slightly as the translucent glow of the tree framed sun descended into its overnight bedroom of stars.

In spite of all the people she had aided in her time, the ceaseless tiredness and deepening pain were interminably progressing towards the inevitable end. And, there was no medical help available to slow or stop the ultimate ending.

Dalton had resigned himself to the coming solitary days; but, the potential loss of their cherished homestead weighed heavily and he could not contemplate its demise.

Whenever troubled, a day fishing from the river bank or a slow float from the one lane covered bridge a mile above their property lent serenity and peace to any anxiety.

They had always managed to survive on their farm but at their age it was now reduced to a few chickens, a milk cow and whatever vegetables the small garden could produce.

The large milk herd was long gone and with no other means of income the bank was threatening to foreclose and take possession of the property.

Emma asked to sit a while on the front porch in her favorite rocking chair and Dalton went inside to fetch a warm comforter for her.

He returned to find the gentle squeaking of the chair silenced. And Emma, eyes closed and smiling at some last fleeting thought, had joined in the chairs noiseless repose.

Per her wish Emma was to be interred next to the river bank; so, as she so often put it, "I can hear the flowing river and watch the sun depart the day."

Dalton was awestruck at the sheer number of folks that came to Emma's final service and burial. He always knew she was well thought of in their community; but the sheer number present and distances from whence they came was a puzzlement and a joy.

In an ill-conceived act of timing the foreclosure notice from the bank arrived just three days after Emma's passing.

Dalton would have to leave the only place he'd ever really known; but the thought of never again being able to visit his Emma was the most merciless act of all.

The farmstead was purchased by an absentee owner whose first action was to fence off access to the property; especially from, as he was quoted," All them locals that wade or float the river and would be climbing all over my place and trashing it."

A request by Dalton to the new owner for access in order to visit with Emma was summarily denied and it was final.

Alone and distraught Dalton never reached the leaf turning fall. He left instructions that he wished to be cremated and buried as near as possible to his beloved Emma even though he knew togetherness was no longer possible. He would never be allowed inside the fence. With little monetary value left in his will it wouldn't seem that his final wish could be granted.

Many folks and friends of Emma and Dalton implored the new landowner to allow them to be joined once more but they were rebuffed at every attempt.

Late that fall, on a moonless night, a single shaded pinpoint of light appeared to be drifting on the river just below the old one lane covered bridge. An occasional muted noise could be heard. Maybe the slap of a large fish or an animal swimming cross the river. Shortly thereafter other low sounds drifted across the blackened sky and were filtered through the trees.

A few weeks later the absentee owner came out to check his property and went to the riverside to make sure his fencing was intact and none of them "damn locals" had been trespassing and trashing his land. Satisfied that his property was still inviolate he left to check the rest of the farmstead.

An examination of the river bank may have revealed recent signs of many boats beached and anchored there in the not so distant past.

Had he looked even closer he may have detected a slight riverside movement of his fence line and a small piece of fresher looking sod next to Emma's headstone.

Freshly chiseled in the small headstone bearing Emma and Dalton's names was a simple epitaph: "A REUNION OF SOULS"

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