LITTLE CREEK

Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused. ― Paulo Coelho

Little Creek

Love is an untamed force.  Indeed.  I’ve spent a lifetime trying to understand it and in the end realized that the torture of asking why, what if, and if only served to deepen the wounds of memories whose sharp rusted edges tear and bruise one’s heart and spirit each moment they live above the surface of that restive cauldron that never cools.  I’ve realized that it’s the mind that eventually falters and in time the pitted patina of our youthful losses fade into a gray-blue surreal scene with black edges and dark contrasts.  Peace comes when the mind hears and no longer recognizes the sound of that first anguished cry.  


 

LITTLE CREEK

Edward approached his teacher, Miss Hart, and stood pensive next to her desk until she looked up.  He knew from experience that a smile or a frown would show which way his day was about to go.  Fearing a reprimand, he cast his eyes down away from his teacher’s gaze.

Julia Hart taught eighth grade English forty years in her small Southern community.  Now, at sixty-two, she was looking at retirement and realized she hadn’t planned for it.  Secretly, she believed she would not live to that day when the state forced her to go home and leave her students to someone else.  Someone she hadn’t met yet.  The thoughts of her impending departure and the gray-blue mist of long dead hope swirled in her thoughts like a wet smoldering fire.

She won her job without hesitation from the principal and school board directly out of college.  They all knew her story but none ever spoke of it. At least not to her.  She never married, rarely dated, and had no goal to ever leave her children. Year after year she devoted her life to teaching the kids what she thought was the ticket to their escape from the same insular and suffocating life she chose.

She felt if they could read and write well, they would outshine their peers in the workforce out there where she dared not venture.  She wanted to make sure her children left her care with the foundational skills and desire to go on to live wonderful lives. Julia Hart wanted the children to have the life she wanted with a quiet and lasting desperation.  The life she forbade herself all these years.

“What is it Edward?”

Edward slowly held up a small diamond ring.  The silver band glinted through the tarnish and deep scratches.  The diamond was gray and lusterless from the silt trapped underneath the setting.  Julia gave Edward a cursory smile to put him at ease as she lifted the ring closer to have a good look.

“Where did you find this Edward?”

Edward explained he found it in Little Creek, near the bank, in shallow water while hunting for tadpoles.  The lines in Julia’s forehead deepened.  Her mouth fell open with stunned slackness as if she wanted to speak but dared not.  Inside the band was an inscription darker than the band from tarnish and grit in the tiny crevices left by the engraver.

“Eternal Love JH 1968.

Julia slammed her hand to her mouth as the ring dropped to the desk, bounced, and sounded with a crystal clear ping as it hit the floor. It was too late. A great cry pushed past her fingers and filled the room.  Julia sobbed out loud.  It was the sound of a wounded creature.  It was the sound of forty-six lost and confused years suddenly coming to reason with the truth.

Edward ran from the room, not looking back or thinking of his prized finding at the creek.  He ran tormented by the haunting sounds and his own words.

“What did I do wrong? What did I do?”

 

15 comments

  1. That is a shimmering, beautiful story. It left shining specks of ideas in my imagination. You have a rare gift, to leave so much in the wake of a very short story, Daniel. (It’s nice to know more about that amazing photo too.)
    Wishing you and yours a perfect 2015. Hugs. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Teagan 🙂 This one has been one of those sitting on the shelf for a long time. It seemed the right time to share it as I explore the idea that life doesn’t cease as a result of growing older. I’m so glad it may have started a flicker in that ever creative mind of yours. I say run with it! 🙂 The picture is a magical spot hidden in the forest and only known to locals. It is in a unique part of Florida famous for it’s crystal clear waters and endless underwater caves. It has only recently become easily accessible by road developments in the area. my great grandfather loved to swim there when he was a child in the late 1800’s.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I always love reading your work. This was so sweet, and really hit home. As a teacher, I can attest to the amount of heart and soul that can be poured into students, with the hope that they will have lives that they love. I have been in the place of being consumed by the task, taking endless amounts of work home, both seen and unseen. In the end, the teaching job is filled by another, and all we have is whatever we have nurtured outside the classroom. Florida was home for many years…you captured a beautiful moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank You AOA. I came from a family of Educators. My paternal grandfather was the Dean of Colleges for FSU in Tallahassee Florida until his death in 1951. He died at the admissions table signing up students. It was an all hands on deck job back in the pencil and paper days. Sad as it was, he left doing his life’s love. My grandmother was an English teacher. Now you know, the rest of the story 🙂

      Like

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