The Trading Post
Autumn in Breakers Canyon, New York was always breath-taking. Daniel and Ellie had been together for nearly twenty years. Every year, for the past 12 years, they had come to this beautiful part of New York, just to take in its color and watch the leaves change into dazzling hues of red and orange and lime-green. Daniel was the backbone and financial supplier of one of the largest construction companies in the state. A different type of construction business, Daniel's company restored old buildings, bridges and rail-roads. He had met Ellie, a stunning "girl next door" brunette that had set his world on end, while restoration of an old school house had come up on his bid sheet. Ellie had, without effort, smiled, kissed and loved her way into his world. Her huge, deer caught in the head lights" eyes had intoxicated Daniel from the day they met. The school house, set in the White Mountains, was her grandmother’s school. Ellie wanted to preserve it as a gift to her grandmother.
It was a different time now, for both of them. Life had spun them some hard times eight years into their marriage. Ellie had gone ahead to a site they were going to restore. The place had been the site of Native Americans when the railroad was trying to take over as much Indian land as they could. It had mattered very little how they got the land or who had to be "removed" to own it. Though the railway was responsible for many Indian deaths, it was still part of the west changing and Ellie had been insistent that they do what they could to restore it all. She would see to it that both the Iroquois Indians and the railway were represented properly. There were some that believed that to restore the train tracks would rekindle the spirits of both sides of the battle. A battle that had ended with entire villages killed and the railroad staking claim to the White Mountains and all that the Iroquois had called home.
"Are we there yet, Daniel? Tell me what you see, please."
Daniel looked over at his beautiful wife. Her face was pressed against the window of the SUV, like that of a child, seeing a waterfall for the first time. Her tiny hand, palm flat on the window, barely covered half of the window. Daniel could see her reflection and the smile that was the beauty he had fallen so in love with. A tear rolled down his face and he was glad she could not see it.
"We are here, Ellie. Let me park and I will tell you everything that I see." Daniel parked the SUV and then opened Ellie's door. Her eyes flittered back and forth quickly, as if she were taking in the entire world, all at once. She smiled and Daniel felt her shiver as he led her away from the vehicle. "Are you cold, baby?"
"Cold? Oh, you mean because I shivered?" She held to his hand tight and touched his face.
"No, you sweet man... I am excited to be here again. This is the year, Daniel." She pressed herself to him and whispered in to his ear. "Please, Love, tell me this is the year."
Daniel held her tight to him. The tears that ran from his eyes now could not be concealed. They cascaded down from his cheek to her shoulder. Ellie took his hand in hers and pressed it against her cheek. Her tears now wet his fingers as he remembered how everything in their perfect world had been turned up-side down by what Ellie had thought was an act of kindness. The eyes that once saw only beauty in a world that was not always kind now saw only darkness. Eight years ago, Ellie had seen every withered Rose and each abandoned Silver mine or weather-worn bridge as an opportunity to bring them to life again. Now, her eyes saw nothing.
"We have to hope, my darling. I wish I could promise you that this year, everything would be as it was. I cannot make a promise that I may not be able to keep. I love you, Ellie Daulton, with sight or without."
Daniel led Ellie to the bridge they had stood on every autumn. It was a very old bridge that sat above the ancient train trestles’. The boards moaned and popped under their feet. Daniel wondered from year to year if the bridge would hold their weight. He stood 6' 2", a body frame like one would expect of a construction worker. His arms were tight and muscled and his barrel chest filled his shirts out just right. He ran his hand through his black hair as the Sun danced across his green eyes. He looked over at Ellie and smiled, though she had no way of knowing he had done so.
Ellie, the love of his life, full of life and love and laughter once, now stood silently beside him. She leaned her head back and let the wind blow across her face. Her hand raised and she touched her cheek. She smiled as the breeze tickled her face and her long hair blew in the wind like a kite trying to finds its way to the open sky. She was small in build but what she lacked in size, she made up for in enthusiasm and her love for life. He knew she was waiting patiently for Daniel to tell her what he saw. She had seen the world through his eyes since the day the curse was put on her. A curse, too much like the Fable of Beauty and the Beast that left her blind. A horrible curse bestowed on her by an Indian Medicine man, who believed she had brought evil upon his people when she restored the railroad tracks and the train station. A curse, only removable by passing it to another person, something that Ellie would never do.
Just as Daniel was about to speak, the breeze picked up. He saw the trees surrounding the bridge begin to sway from side to side like dancers performing in a night club. The sand and gravel beneath the bridge twirled and raised from the ground. Clouds began to form and from them came shapes. Daniel knew what it was. He had seen it happen for eight years, each time, one more person forming from the clouds. He wondered who the eighth one would be this year. It had started with the owner fo the railroad in 1865. The following year was the Chief of the Iroquois from the same year. It switched from white man to Indian each year, this year he figured would be a white man. From the last cloud, a figure took shape. As Daniel stared down at the figured, he whispered aloud.
"Oh my God, please don't let this happen again!" A bolt of lightning struck the East side of the bridge. Wood, more than 100 years old spit out smoke from its inwards. Flames began to chew away at the bridge they stood on. Ellie could now smell the burning timber.
"Daniel" she cried out in a voice filled with fear, "Daniel, tell me what you see! Tell me what is happening, please!!!!!"