house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Down the River

Two old men go for their usual Sunday afternoon walk, to the Minho and back. They take their umbrellas and, between them, three small dogs. This is what they see:

A foreign car rolls round the corner and stops at the old mill.

Doors open and out spill: a drab woman in rubber boots, talking in fast question marks; two youngsters looking like futuristic creatures in black wetsuits, helmets and vests; a red dog running round and round the aquatic creatures; two kayaks bearing the scars of former adventures; as an afterthought, two oars.

The kayaks get dragged down to the river, the little girl and the woman turn right and hop over mossy stones to wait under the bridge; the boy has taken his kayak and gone the other way.

The girl sits on a rock, looking into space. Green light shimmers around her, willow branches drip, water rushes past her feet. In this wavering tableau, she glows, still and clear, lit up by the last rays of the day and a ribbon of rainbow. The woman stands with a gaze that seems to gulp in the moment and stop breathing, for fear of losing it somehow.

Then the boy appears floating fast towards them. The kayak cuts silent zigzags into river rapids and the roar of dark water. He throws a little smile towards the shore, and inside the smile there's a whoop of joy.

The two old men are still up on the bridge, glued to the parapet, watching all this. They see:

The boy jumps out of his boat and helps the girl into her kayak. He pushes her into the river and quickly follows. In a second they're under the bridge and on the other side. Here the river roars even more furiously as it senses the embrace of the mighty Minho.

The old men run along the path to the mouth of the Minho, following the kayaks.

The little girl is spun around by a current and paddles backwards for a little while. She gives a loud scream (the old men are terrified), and the boy helps her turn. They bob and bump along. The river stretches icy fingers to comb through their hair. They look like otters playing, and the old men are happy to see this.

The river finally spits the two kayaks into the Minho and they stop still. Only four hearts keep drumming. Five – the mum just got here to see them arrive. The girl tries to keep going, overbalances and flips over. She forgets how to get herself out of the situation, so she gets herself out of the kayak. The boy is there to catch her.

Everything is carried back to the shore, back to the road, back to the car. The dog jumps in and the foreign car drives off. The old men amble home, with a story.

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At 16 November 2010 at 17:48 , Blogger Magnus said...

Que bom!
Wish I could hear the old guys versions of this particular adventure. And to see Kira's eyes of green reflecting the glimmer of autumn leaves. And Nikita's hoots. Saffy is not an otter; i suppose she just sprinted around in a stressed motherly way. what joy))


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