Everything on here is purely symbolic and nothing more.
It was mid morning when I came to the river. I sighed as I examined the
remains of the bridge that use to span it. The water was a roaring torrent
below. I looked up and down the river to see if there was another place I could
cross. There was a trail going downstream. Depending on the experience of others,
I followed it.
The trail was heavily rutted and it wasn't long before I twisted my ankle and fell.
I bit my lip as I wrapped it. Then carefully I stood up and brushed the dirt off my
bruised body. Hobbling, I continued to follow the trail.
Soon, the river widened and calmed itself. The trail ended at a ferry pier. The
ferryman waved enthusiastically at me as he jumped off the pier to help me. Sitting
me on a barrel, he brushed a strand of hair away from my face and smiled.
"Has anyone told you how pretty you are?" he asked.
"It is not a subject that comes up often in conversation," I told him.
"Well, I think you're very pretty."
"Thank you. Can we cross the river now?"
"Why do you want to cross? It's very nice here and I could take care of you then."
"I need to continue my journey," I said.
"But you are hurt. You shouldn't be walking on that ankle," he said.
"My ankle will heal. I need to go on."
"Stay with me."
"Why?" I asked.
"I want a wife. I am the only ferryman along this river without a family."
"What you are asking for is a marriage of convience. I could never be happy
"I could make you happy. I can take care of you and you can have children
and we will be complete."
"And what would we talk about in evenings?" I asked.
He gave me a half smile. "We won't need to talk," he said.
"And what about goals? What about developing the skills and talents God
"We will be a family. That is the most important thing."
"I agree families are important, but there must be love and respect in them
and an opportunity to cultivate the best in us."
"But you would be a wife and mother. Isn't that what you want?"
"That, in itself, is not enough. That and only that would destroy me.
This is something I know from experience. I will not repeat it. I want
a companion, not a bread winner. And I want to be a companion, not a
housewife. The greatest gift I can give my children is to show them
what a union between souls truly is. That leaves out your proposal."
I stood up and turned away. He grabbed my arm.
"You are hurt. You cannot do this on your own."
"Perhaps not, but I can do it without you."
I wrenched my arm away and stepped carefully off the pier. I decided to continue
further downstream. It was after midday, but finally I came across another
ferryman and his family. His wife beamed as she greeted me.
"Come!" she said. "Let us tend to your ankle before you cross."
"You are too kind," I said,
"Nonsense! I like talking to new people." She led my to their cottage. Inside
I found marvelous oil paintings everywhere.
"These are beautiful!" I told her.
"Thank you. But be careful of that one on the easel. It's not dry yet."
"You painted all of these?"
She smiled. "Yes. When they are are finished, we go to the city in
the south and sell them and my husband's wood carvings. Then we buy more
paints, canvases and exotic woods. Our eldest tends the ferry while we're away."
"You are content with your life then."
"Oh, yes! I have a wonderful family and I can paint. I couldn't ask for more."
I smiled. "I am happy for you."
Her smile widened and she went to fetch a fresh bandage for my ankle. Thanking her,
I went to her husband and paid him the fare to cross the river. Halfway across, I
asked him, "Excuse me, but what is the best part of your marriage?"
He smiled. "We're a team. We do things together. We talk. We plan. We work.
Even when we do separate activities, we are reaching for the same goal."
"Thank you. Your words are a comfort to my soul."
"No problem," he said. "It was a pleasure."
On the other side of the river, he helped me onto the dry land and I thanked him
again. I hoped to find such happiness someday, but there was so much I must
heal first. I continued onward.