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How Fast The Water Flows This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Ever since he was young and could go outside to play, he loved to walk down his quiet street, take a right at the first stop sign, cross the small bridge, and follow the path that would take him to his favorite place. It was the Mohawk Valley Stream, officially. But he knew it only as the water. He was only five or six and didn't care about official names so that did him just fine.

It was his place and his place only. No friends, no parents. Just him and the soft but consistent sound of the flowing stream and its talent to calm his soul. Occasionally the mixed sounds of birds singing somewhere nearby added to the effect.

For most of his childhood he did not seek many friends and the only one he ever really liked enough to call true was Marlene. But he never showed her his place. He never let her in on the secret he held - the water.

Never had he forgotten how he felt to be with her. It was his first taste of a female's love. And that first touch affected him for the rest of his life. After all, it was like no other feeling. Well, not at that particular time was it by any means romance. Just a very strong friendship.

One summer he could remember getting his first pet. It was a birthday gift from his father. It was beautiful puppy -- a Golden Retriever. It brought him much happiness. He was so happy as a matter of fact that he wanted to show his father the water as a gift in return. They both stayed there for a while until sundown and skipped rocks. His father was so impressed by that place. How the sun reflected off of the water and quiet and how serene it was. The atmosphere was aesthetic.

Soon, though, the end of summer came. And with it a tragic event. His father had taken a vacation. With tears running down her face, trying hard to suppress them with a smile, his mother attempted an explanation - his father would be away for a while. But years passed and he never did return. Later he learned that his dad's heart just didn't want to work anymore. It just gave up and stopped.

At a time when time didn't seem to exist, when friends had come and gone, and when hearts were rapidly being broken and put back together, his mother was begging him to become a doctor or a lawyer and to make something of himself. But there wasn't enough drive in him to go for the five-digit salaries. So he set up a nice, little bait-and-tackle shop along the south side of Lake Grisham and was fairly successful.

Something about the water. It was always there for him. He took comfort in it and for the most part it did him good. However, since his father passed, he never went back to his special place by the bridge. He blamed it for taking away his father. Maybe he'd visit it again someday, but no time soon.

When the ripe age of fifty approached, he came across a woman named Marlene working as a hairdresser in a town nearby. They met and decided to go for coffee one night. Soon they realized they were not strangers and memories popped up. After some time they fell in love and would go for walks holding hands. Then he would chase her and they'd play games just like long ago. It was as if they were young again. This made him very happy, and he hoped that he had finally found someone, and that it would never end.

But it would. What he failed to realize was that they were not young anymore. Marlene had put it in simple words and said that she was afraid of settling down. Her life was full of complicated dead-end relationships that never got farther than the bedroom and she didn't want to do that to him. He discovered the note one Sunday morning on his table by the front door.

Now and then he'd receive a post card from her saying that she was okay and she hoped he was too.

Some men would drink their way out of the severe depression this caused. But even as it overcame him, he did not. It was pitiful that he had nothing else to look forward to.

One afternoon he cooked himself some venison and drank a beer. He sat on the same chair that he sat on when he found out that his mother took a vacation to visit his father as well. That was three years back. The tears had long since dried up. By now he was used to sad endings.

The sun was now on its way down. He picked up one of his hunting pistols and decided to walk to his special place of long ago.

The Mohawk Valley Stream hadn't completely dried up, but it wasn't as full as it once was. He chose a large boulder by the side of the water and sat down. He watched the sun go down over the trees and looked at what was left of the stream - of the water. He didn't like how fast it traveled and how soon it got where it was going and felt slightly jealous. As it flowed past his view, he wondered where it would stop, if it would stop. Did it have a destination? Or was it just on a journey to see where the next bend would take it, not caring where it would end?

As the first sign of the pale moon appeared in the sky, he thought that he had reached his destination. He didn't want to wait for someone else to disappear from his life again. Everyone he loved had flowed away - taken their own journey - just like the water. He was old enough now, and he had grown tired. He looked at the pistol in his hand and many thoughts ran through his mind. How he suddenly wished that he could flow away with the stream and go wherever it would take him. But he was too old to start over.

He leaned over the side of what was now just a small creek with the water struggling to find its way through. Cupping his hands, he brought some to his face and let it drip down through his whiskers and the wrinkles that had formed. Some of it entered his mouth by accident and tasted salty. But the creek was fresh water.

Suddenly and without warning, a sharp pain was inside his chest. It was unbearable. It felt like someone had stabbed and stolen his life away. He was having a heart attack. And he knew it. He struggled to get up, to call for help, but no one was there. No one to save him. No one to help him.

He lay down beside the river alone, and knew what was coming. He took one last look up at the sky, and closed his eyes.

His last sad ending. 1


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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