Mudcat Café message #3799706 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #142631   Message #3799706
Posted By: Donuel
10-Jul-16 - 04:51 PM
Thread Name: Jane's Rainbow: for all needing support & comfort
Subject: RE: Jane's Rainbow: for all needing support & comfort
Here is a story I wrote for my agoraphobic son to find in the printer:

            Crossing the dark river of self loathing

Standing above the river bank trail we see the distant opposite shore and nearby islands in the currents. Beyond is the rest of the larger future unknown world. When we were small we learned to swim in still waters but the river keeps on rolling along.

Perhaps a boat or raft would be best but who knows how to build them. Most people travel to eventually pass over a toll bridge far away but we all don't have the money or the time to work and save for passage, while some risk punishment by stealing across .

Many people just wander the trail on this side of the river and some are seen sadly clinging to debris or tree that aimlessly drifts down the river where only a few are rescued. When the desperate isolation equals the risks and fears of the river, the journey begins.

Unseen beneath the water at the river's edge is silt that acts exactly like quicksand to those who rely upon the bottom instead of floating over the danger. Dean got stuck up to his knees in the silt but instead of pushing his feet deeper into the muck he waited nearly a full day to gently float out of the trap millimeter by millimeter.

Older but wiser the next hot summer's day the water felt soothingly cool as Dean set out again. Young, good looking with long dark blonde hair, Dean had bound some reeds together for safety and aimed for the island allowing for the current to pull him far to the right. After briefly paddling with his arms, friendly clouds shielded him from the hot sun but he became doubtful if he would reach the island where he thought he would. He started paddling almost against the current, but that only worsened his angle.

He hated that his calculation was so far off. Now the river looked dark and the island too far away. Paddling even harder with the current still let the island drift to his left. Tired full of doubt and increasing tension he started swimming harder. The island was definitely out of reach when a sand bar he had never seen was now beneath him and connected to the island only slightly under the water. Dean walked fifty meters to safety to see what the rest of the crossing looked like.

Blueberry bushes, bright red raspberries and wild roses hugged the shore and began to sway as a wind picked up. Odd things were caught midway up some of the trees. A board with a round hole in it, wicker furniture and maybe clothes. Further in the shade hid a flooded out shack. Reaching the far side of the island Dean studied the far river bank, four times farther away than he had imagined.

Still mid morning it was decision time, should I spend the night or go for it before it gets dark, Dean wondered. He hated he had been so wrong about the distance.
Hungry, he made a big lunch of blueberries despite the scratches and punctures from vines of thorns and took a nap. When he woke there was a wind and the sky was a little darker. The bound reeds he used were now useless limp and soaked.
He needed something that would float. Back in the trees Dean looked up for anything that would float. There it was, what could be better than a bag of corks he could tie around his chest. "I'm going for it ".

At the water's edge the river felt warm this time as specks of rain surprised Dean.
This time he kicked and stroked one arm at a time through the now black water.
He thought, I wish I had left sooner or not taken a nap or eaten so many berries.
There were waves now that caused him to swallow water. Memories surfaced of his parents urging him to follow everyone else to the distant bridge and pay whatever was asked. Bandits were said to attack travelers on the trail for the toll money they needed. A leg cramp, and Dean feeling nauseous nearly stopped. Why was I so stupid to think I could cross here, the island still looked close compared to the far river bank outlined in a thread of white. No denying the storm had arrived. Dean felt half blind from the splashing rain and waves as the river felt faster deeper and stronger. Dean felt the bump and rolled completely underwater. I should have seen that log, stupid stupid ! What made me think I could do this? Sure others have done it but who am I. Maybe I could just drift and eventually hit the shore, but Dean had seen others give up. Even his dad had given up. Dean kept swimming as he began to feel heavy in the choppy water. A hole in the bag of corks had lost half of its contents. WHY DID I NOT CHECK? Dean was resigned to realizing how serious this crossing had become. Anger turned inward and sapped his strength. Rubbing his eyes he could not recognize anything racing by on shore. He rested a bit and started swimming more vigorously than he knew he could. He felt something with his foot, it was the silt. Knowing better now he floated and bobbed over the danger and grabbed branches that reached into the water. Weighing what felt like a ton, Dean pulled himself up the slippery bank gasping for air as he reached a road.

There he laid back for only a minute when he heard a wagon approaching. He then saw two men well dressed that might be authorities but Dean couldn't be sure.
When he sat up the men both saw him.
"you there, are you from across the river?"
The other man just glared through the rain.
Breathlessly Dean said "I crossed the river twice".
Oh I see, well please go ahead sir.
The other man's face turned into a smile and asked "Do you want a ride? Newtown is just two miles ahead".
Dean smiled for the first time in a long time and said "Thank you Yes".
Relaxed now Dean knew there would be more rivers, borders and cultures to cross.