I was watching the river flow past me wondering where it was going and thinking about the many different landscapes it would pass through to get there. The leaves are changing and the adjoining forest is carpeted with a beautiful red and gold rug. I hear the footfalls of someone approaching. The leaves rustling and twigs snapping as they get closer to where I’m sitting on the rock where I always come to be alone. The brush parts and the intruder emerges. I don’t look up because I know who it is and I really did not plan on seeing him today.
“What’s up Eddie?”
I turn and look at him…at me…standing a few feet away.He is dressed, as always , like me.In fact it is a mirror image of myself. Uninvited , he finds a seat on the riverbank next to my rock. We don’t look at each other and for awhile we don’t speak. We sit and I contemplate the most reasonable explanation for this encounter. Insanity. He has shown up off and on for the past thirty years or so. Usually when I am at my lowest and need someone to talk , or more importantly , listen to
“I thought I would see you today,” I said to him. Or me.
“Really? why’s that?”
Here we go. How does he do this so easily. “Well I have just had a lot on my mind lately.I don’t know where to go with what I’ve been thinking”
“And that is…?” he ask still not looking at me but out toward the rushing river.
I bend down looking for a stick , trying to camouflage my nervousness.Finding the perfect stick I sit back up and begin pulling the bark off of it , tossing it in the river.”I don’t know if I’m up for this. I mean I’m not sure I’m strong enough to handle everything that I’ve got in front of me. I mean watching my parents …it’s just hard.I didn’t know it was so hard to die.”
“Remember the Pink Floyd lyrics? One day older, another day closer to death? Well that’s true for all of us.Everyday we take one more step closer. And that’s not as ominous as it sounds. Are you prepared to die Eddie? I mean right now.If something happened would you be afraid to die?”
“That’s a stupid question for you to ask me! There has been more than one time when I wanted to kill you yet I let you weasel your way out of it,” I snapped right back at him , jumping off my rock.
“And where would your father and mother be right now? Who would be there to take care of them? They’d be in a nursing home you selfish bastard!”
I turned the stick over and over in my hand looking for a worthy reply and finding none cast it into the river and stood watching as it bobbed away.
Standing up , wiping the dirt off of his jeans he asked , “how far do you think it will go?”
“How far do you think it will go before it gets stuck somewhere? You see we can’t just ride the current. Sometimes we may have to swim upstream. Sometimes we may need to reach out and grab a hand and have somebody pull us out of the water.How far do you think you can go without asking for help?”
“Well I think I’m going to move on and leave you alone for awhile. I mean you came out here to be alone and think.”He turned and started off back through the golden forest and I called after him,”Hey! You need a ride or something?”
He turned slowly and for the first time we made eye contact. I looked into his , my eyes and saw he was tired and weary, but at peace. I had not seen that in his eyes before and I felt better.
“No” he said and then smiled,”I have no idea where I’m going.” With that he turned and the brush closed behind him and I was once again alone by the river.