Warriors and Champions15

A Trip Downstream

The raft that was constructed was more akin to a wooden yacht than a normal wooden raft that is thought of. It had two lounger seats built into it and a place that contained a box with ice that contained our food and drinks for the duration of our trip. I also had oars constructed to paddle the raft if needed. As a last minute thought I had runners put on the bottom so it could be dragged easily across the ground.

As I waited for Lizeth to meet me at the riverbank I went through my plan over and over again. Making sure I did everything correctly and I hoped that she would enjoy going down the river. And I further hoped that she would be able to once again feel like everything was good in the world.

The day we played around with the other children in town was fun and we were able to let go. But I knew that the river was her one thing that was always constant and unchanging in her life. Everyone needs somewhere where they can go and find themselves again. I had my childhood tree that I went to and the river was where Lizeth went.

I heard her footsteps getting closer and I knew that my time to plan was over, “hi Lizeth.”

“Ray what is going on? I was told that you wanted to talk to me.”

“Yeah I was going to show you another thing that my world does. Unfortunately your world doesn’t have what I my world however, I was able to make a substitute.” I led her to the shore and there was the raft ready to go.

“Lizeth during the summer time many people go to rivers and float down them on rubber tubes. Many times hundreds of people are on the river at the same time. And groups are formed and they all float down the river sharing their food drinks with the entire group. It is a lot of fun and I thought that you and I could float down the river.”

This was the moment of truth, would she accept my invite or not? I could feel my mouth getting dry and my palms getting sweating from nervousness. For a moment Lizeth stood there and I thought she was going to decline. Then her face seemed to light up, “yes Ray I will float down with you.”

I grabbed her hand and helped her onto the raft. With both of us on I shoved off and let the current take us. As we settled into our seats I took a moment and wondered at the level of care and precision that was built into my raft. I made a mental note to thank the blacksmith and carpenter for their help and dedication.

“So tell me more about these rubber tubes that you float on,” Lizeth said.

“They are tubes made of rubber compounds that vary in size. But they are filled up with air to make them buoyant. And much like a boat or raft they can float upon the water. The tubes also come in different ways, like sometimes they are just a plain tube and other times they are made with seats like this raft.

“And people everywhere come together with their tubes and other stuff like food and just spend the entire day gently floating down the rivers. It really is a strange thing to think about. Total strangers make little floating villages and friendships are created. If you were to go alone you soon would find yourself surrounded by people all wanting to share fun with you.”

“It sounds like a fun time. When we get to the island I told you about I want to stop there for awhile Ray.”

“Sure thing Lizeth.”

The river flowed somewhat slower than what I was used to but we still made good time. From time to time I looked over at Lizeth and she was looking at the scenery and looked liked she was enjoying the ride. I knew that this was the first time she saw the woods in this fashion and she was taking it in.

The island soon came into view and I got up and steered us to the island. After we got off the raft Lizeth took me by the hand, “come on Ray I want to show you something.” We went to the middle of the island and Lizeth sat down and I followed suit. “When I would come here as a child I would spend hours playing around and sometimes I would go to the shoreline and build sandcastles and sink my toes into the sand.”

“This place holds many dear memories and even dreams.” Lizeth laughed a little and continued on, “one of my childhood dreams was to build a little cottage and during the summer months live here. You know even though it was a childhood dream part of me wants to still do it. I guess part of it is because of the war. To remind me of simpler more peaceful times and out here there is nothing to worry about.

“There have been a few times that I have camped out here and listening to the river gently flow by at night is very soothing. Nature has its own lullabies that she sings and when she sings all is right and all is well. There is nothing else to worry about, no duties, no formalities, no war only peace and goodness. And until today it has been a long time since I was able to hear nature sing.”

As Lizeth talked I noticed the cares and worries leave her body and she became relaxed and her face lit up and glowed. We stood up and walked down to the shore and opened the cooler and ate our lunch. As we ate I listened to the river flowing and for the first time in my life I actually heard the river. It was a very peaceful almost hypnotic song. I knew that I could listen to that sound for a long time.

“You know Lizeth this is the first time that I have truly heard the river. For all the times that I floated down rivers I never listened to them because it was drowned out by people all laughing and having fun. But know I understand what you meant about nature’s song. With all the modern things in my world they cannot compare to the peace and simplicity of yours.

“All of our advancements have deluded our minds and crowded out all the wonderful things that are naturally found in the world. Even when we go out into nature we bring along our world and drown out the wonderful things of nature. If I ever get back home I need to make sure that I go outside more often and learn to listen to nature and fully partake of all her goodness.”

We finished our lunch and put everything away and I waded out a bit and just stood there with my eyes closed enjoying the peace and serenity of nature. I was soon brought out of my thoughts when I felt cold water splashed on my back and heard Lizeth laughing. I opened my eyes and scooped up some water and splashed her back. Then everything was forgotten and I was lost in the moment.

I kept splashing Lizeth as she started a ruthless onslaught of splashing me. I then put my hand on her head and dunked her. But she escaped my hand underwater and I felt my legs tugged from underneath me and I fell face first into the water. I came up soaking and laughing and continued my attack. I picked up Lizeth and tossed her further into the river and she swam to me and jumped on me and pushed me into the water.

I soon surrendered, “alright, alright I give up Lizeth.”

“Poor sport and I was just about to ramp up my attack,” Lizeth said wryly.

I laughed, “Well I just didn’t want to make you feel bad because you know I was winning,” I said sarcastically. We both laughed and started back to the raft.

“There is still one more thing that I can do to let you get more of a feel of floating down the river like in my world,” I said.

“Please do it Ray.”

“Okay.” As almost an afterthought I asked the carpenter if he could make the bottom of the chair to slide and put a netted seat to allow us to sit in the water. I slid the panels back and the netted seats were ready.

“When we get going Lizeth just sit down and you will be able to get a better feeling of my world.” I shoved off and we were back into the current. I helped Lizeth sit down and get situated and then I sat down. As I felt the water rushing past my legs I almost felt like I was back home. “What do you think Lizeth?”

“This is amazing Ray. I can understand why your world does this in the summer time. This is an amazing way to keep cool and have fun at the same time. Not to mention how relaxing this is.”

“Yes it is very relaxing and during the winter time we also use tubes along with other devices. When it snows we go to hills and tube down them and we also use sleds on hills as well. And in the mountain areas people have taken the idea of running boards on sleighs and put on attachments to keep their feet on the boards. They use these skis, as they are called, and go down the mountain side. They also have created a solo ski making it wider so the rider only uses one board to go down the mountain.

“I have never gone skiing or snowboarding before but I have heard it is really fun. Maybe one day I will try it out.” I felt a mischievous grin form on my face and I put my hand in the water and scooped some water and tossed it at Lizeth, “score one from the boys back home.”

“Oh are you ready for round two Ray?” Somehow Lizeth had filled the cooler with water and was ready to dump it on me. “Why must you torment me Lizeth? No I don’t want to start round two. I was just finishing round one.”

“Oh I see Ray because if I remember correctly you gave up and lost round one.”

“Yeah so? I still finished it anyway.”

“Whatever you big baby.”

“That’s right and don’t you forget it, wait that isn’t right.” We both broke out into laughter.

“How far down are we going Ray?”

“Not too much further, I just wanted to float most of the day so I didn’t know exactly where to stop but with some help from town I was able to find a spot. In my world most of the rivers where people go have been developed so you can get back to your car quickly. Some have shuttles that take people back to the main parking lot so they don’t have to walk all the way back. But in our case I had to have help in figuring out how to do it.

“In the end we decided to put running boards on the bottom and a rope on the front to allow the raft to be dragged along the ground. And as far as transportation goes I have arranged for a horse to be left for us to use.”

“You have done a lot of planning for this haven’t you?” It wasn’t a question and we both knew it.

“Yes Lizeth I did. I knew that the river meant a lot to you and you have done so much for me so I wanted to give something back.”

“You didn’t have to Ray but I do thank you for your generosity. It has been an experience that I will always remember and cherish forever. You have been a great friend and truthfully you have done more for me than I for you. You have given me the gift of hope and I know one day you will be able to save us all. You have changed a lot since when we first met. You have more confidence and trust in yourself and one day you will completely trust in yourself and your gifts. And in that day you will find you are strong.”

We soon were at our journey’s end and as I helped Lizeth out of the raft she kissed me on the cheek. I didn’t know what to do for I have never had been kissed on the cheek before, besides my mom but she didn’t count. I put the raft back together and pulled it ashore and to the horse. When I got the rope tied around the horse I got on and swung Lizeth up and we started back to Norshire.

© 2014 RichardBBenson

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