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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Still Waters" Chapter Seven

They floated in silence for several minutes. James, Clair, and Kenzie rested their feet on each other’s tubes to stay together. Anna was about three yards ahead of her family. This is the great thing about tubing, James thought to himself. It’s like a hammock in the water. And without thinking he let the jingle he had sung an hour before slip again from  his mind to his mouth as if it were a lullaby:

“Long time. Long time. Chewy, chewy Tootsie Rolls last a long time.”
[Notes: A-G...octave up A-G.........E-E..........C-C.........E-E........C...octave down A-G-A-C]
 Clair thumped his tube with her finger, opened only one eye toward him, and shook her head ever so slightly.

“I can’t help it.” James Whispered, “It’s still in my head.”

“Keep it there,” Clair smiled, and turned her face again toward the sun.

Silent moments passed like the current of the stream. Then James sat up in his tube to better watch the changing scenery. The surface of the water was about three feet below the brow of the bank. Trees on the edge leaned toward the water with their witch-finger roots exposed and scraggly in the air where spring torrents had washed away what little earth they held. In the shade between the trees grew ferns and low-growing foliage. Basking in the sun on a fallen tree trunk, he saw a small painted turtle, but it slipped into the water when their eyes met. How different from a box turtle, he thought. Box turtles will greet you like an old neighbor. Up ahead, in a small clearing, he saw a large triangular shadow.

 “What’s that?” he wondered aloud.

“What’s what?” Clair asked, raising her feet from the water.

“On the shore there. Is that a monument? James asked.

“Oh, brother! I thought you saw a snake. Don’t do that, James.”

“Well, look at it. Why’s it there?”

“It’s just a pile of rocks,” Clair said.

“Not just a pile. It’s gotta be three feet high in a perfect pyramid. Maybe it’s an ebenezer of some kind.”

“Some kids probably did it,” Clair said.

“What’s it got to do with Scrooge,” Kenzie asked.

“Who said anything about Scrooge?” James asked.

“You said it looked like Ebenezer,” said Kenzie.

James laughed. “Like an ebenezer. Not Ebenezer Scrooge. Remember that Bible story when the Israelites defeated the Philistines and Samuel put up a stone monument so they would never forget it? He called it an ebenezer. It means ‘stone of help’ or something like that. Samuel wanted the Israelites to remember how the Lord had helped them at that place. It was sort of like when Joshua made a pile of twelve stones when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River.

“I remember that story, but I don’t remember the stones being called Ebenezer” said Kenzie. "I thought that name came from the other story.”

“Why do you think Dickens named his character Ebenezer Scrooge, James?” Clair asked.

“Maybe because the Lord helped him remember things that night,” said James.

“I thought ghosts helped him remember,” Kenzie said.

“Well, the Lord sent the ghosts to help him remember.” James continued.

"I thought Jacob Marley sent them." Kenzie said.

"Marley didn't send the ghosts he warned Scrooge that they were coming. He was sort of a prophet of the Ghosts."

“You told me there was no such thing as ghosts,” Kenzie said.

“That's true. It’s just a story. Ghosts are used in stories a lot, but that doesn’t make them real. Enough about ghosts, Kenzie. I was trying to explain what an ebenezer is. When we want something to be remembered for a long time we put it in stone--tombstones, pyramids--it's really about remembering something or somebody way past a lifetime.”

"Or like when you let us put our handprints in the wet cement by the side of  the house," added Kenzie.

"Yes, like that," her father nodded. "I'm not sure I'd call that an ebenezer, but you get the idea."

“Kenzie, You’ve heard the word ebenezer before,” Clair said without opening her eyes, “in that hymn we sing in church ‘Come Thou Fount...’"

Clair began singing the second verse and James joined in. This was not unusual for them. They had been singing beside each other in church for more than twenty-five years and often fell into harmonized chorus when old hymns came to mind.
Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.
Anna sat up in her tube.

“What are we having a church service or something,” she said with a yawn.

“Well... Sleeping Beauty has decided to join us,” Clair laughed.

“I really did fall asleep,” Anna smiled.

“You’ve been working too many hours,” her mother said.

Anna continued, “Then I thought I heard angels singing.”

“No. It was Mom and Dad telling me about that pile of stones.” Kenzie explained.

“What pile of stones?”

“It’s gone now. They were back there stacked like a pyramid.

“You missed it, Sis.” James said, “Can’t close your eyes for a minute on this adventure.”

“Well, I’m wide awake now,” she said with a mischievous splash in his direction.

He splashed back at her but got Kenzie as well. Kenzie splashed back at him. Clair pushed off in an attempt to get away from the flying water and then all three began splashing toward her. She splashed back in defense and then just leaned back in her tube, enjoying the refreshing shower. By the time the laughter and splashes came to a halt, so did they. They had veered out of the river’s flow to the shade of the west bank.

“Can I have my water bottle,” Anna asked, removing her dripping sunglasses.

“Me, too,” said Kenzie.

“No problem,” James said, pulling up the mesh bag and passing out the bottles according to the initial on the lid.

While they sipped water, James got out of his tube. The river was less than knee-deep. He wiped his glasses off as best he could with the edge of his damp T-shirt and began studying the shallow water. An interesting stone of speckled orange hue about the size of a small eggplant was at his feet. Beside it was rounder stone of deep red hue. With one hand holding open the mesh bag, he picked up each stone, put it the bag, and dropped it below the surface of the water as he returned to the girls.

“What did you find?” asked Clair.

“Oh, nothing,” James smiled.

“Then what did you put in the bag?” she asked.

“Just some stones for the waterfall,” he said.

“You’re collecting more stones?” she asked.

“For the turtles?” Anna added incredulously.

“For the waterfall,” Kenzie said in her father’s defense. "You haven't even seen it, Anna. It's really cool."

"But it is for the turtles. It is their waterfall, right?" Anna continued.

"Sort of," Kenzie sighed.

"I rest my case," Anna smiled.

“He is carrying our water, girls," Clair said, handing him her bottle, “So who are we to question how heavy the bag gets.”

“They’re not heavy in the water,” James explained again, “I forget the bag is even there.”

Anna and Clair gave him their bottles. He synched the drawstring, checked the knot on his rope, and let it drop to the side of his tube.

Still standing knee-deep, James gave each ot the other tubes a push back toward the current and then flopped backwards in his own tube, rinsed the mud from his old tennis shoes, and paddled backward toward his family.

By the time he reached the center current, his wife and two daughters were far ahead of him. He stopped paddling for a moment, half spun to get his bearings, watched the girls disappear around a bend in the river, and turned his back toward them to resume his backstroke in their direction. 

Just over his head came another blue jay cry, first in one ear then the other as it swooped to a branch that hung over the river like an outstretched arm.


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17/7/10 1:41 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Thanks for the invite.
This is not quite a short story, but I will consider submitting something.

14/8/10 11:30 PM  

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