The River Girl and the Boy That Loved Her: A Short Story
First and foremost, I want to dedicate this story to Anna Maria Glojj who inspired me to write this because without her, this story would not have been at all possible.
I've always wondered about how stories come into existence since memory. In addition, I've always been fascinated about how a series of occurrences equate to a plot and the way in which a storyteller can engage the reader or listener from one scene to the next. In my time since joining HubPages, I've attempted to share with others the fruits of my labor (or is it my labor of love?) which include Lao Folktales I interpreted from Lao to English and others I created on my own like Revenge, Inc. My intent when writing The River Girl and the Boy That Loved Her is to create a "new" Lao Folktale in which I hope will be shared for years to come either through the classical medium of oral tradition or in the written form you see before you. In either case, this is my attempt to do just that. I hope that I've achieved such. As always thank you for reading me.
On the day he met her for the first time, their teacher briefly introduced her to the rest of the class. Like the boy, the girl kept to her herself and was very quiet and did nothing to attract any attention. She listened to their teacher and did her work and while she did so, the boy watched her because to the boy, there was something very special about her. She wasn't like the rest of the girls in the class who constantly chatted and giggled with one another at opportune times. Instead, she seemed not to notice that anyone else was around her including the boy.
When it was time for lunch, the boy saw that the girl wasn't eating. She seemed to have forgotten her lunch. While the rest of the classroom ate their lunches the girl only sat in her chair reading a book by herself. Seeing this, the boy walked over to her and offered her his small basket of steamed sticky rice and dried beef but the girl refused. "I'm not hungry," the girl insisted and went back to reading her book. The boy was confused. After a time he returned to his desk and sat down. He ate the lunch his mother prepared for him and didn't say a word.
When the boy returned home from school that day he saw that his father was waiting to talk to him. His father stood in front of the field of crops behind their house. "A day will come when you will take a bride," the boy's father said. Immediately, the boy thought of the girl from school and his face began to turn red. "A part of this land that belonged to our family for many years will then be given as a dowry to your bride's father which is the price for her hand in marriage. What remains of this land will provide for you in the future, to feed and nurture you and your family as it does ours. It is as much a part of you as your hands, feet, and limbs. Take good care of it and it will take good care of you in return."
In the coming days the rains of the wet season fell in torrents; the rain fell often and heavy. When seeing the girl in school the boy noticed that the girl arrived soaking wet. From the top of her head to the tips of her flip-flop exposed toes, the girl was a picture of the rainy season. All of the boys and girls at the school had umbrellas of their own except for the girl. So, at the end of the day the boy followed the girl out of the school house and ran over to her. The girl was readying herself with her school books above her head to shield herself from the rain when the boy reached her. The boy opened up his umbrella so the two of them could stay dry. The girl looked sad.
"I'll be fine," the girl said to him. "I don't know need your help. Besides, we're going different ways. I don't want you to go away from your home." In a blink, the girl then darted away from the boy and was out of sight before he could argue with her.
When the boy got home from school that day his mother saw that he was upset. "What's wrong?" She asked. But the boy only shook his head. He laid down on the bamboo mat and pulled a blanket over himself. His mother then walked over and felt his forehead. "You don't feel warm...Are you sick?" But the boy only laid there that way for the rest of the night. For hours, he thought about the girl from school and thought about why she disliked him so much. Before he fell into a deep sleep he came up with one more idea.
The boy knew of a secret place behind his house where the most colorful flowers in the village grew wild. So before heading to school the next morning, the boy decided to visit the place. It was there that he picked a single flower, Dok Champa, for the girl. He was sure that doing so would win her heart. He wrapped the flower carefully into a small cloth and bought it with him to school. Afterwards, when it was time to leave, the boy rushed over to her and unwrapped her present.
“No!” The girl said. The boy could see that she was furious--so much so that her voice was shaking. “Giving this to me won’t change anything. Do you understand? My family and I are leaving tonight and there is nothing you can do to change that." The girl then ran away from the boy and left him holding the single yellow and white flower in his hand.
Later on, the boy watched from a distance as the girl and her family gathered their belongings and boarded a long boat, not far from where his family lived. The girl looked back at the boy while sitting on the stern of the boat which seemed to move with the currents of the rushing Mekong River without any effort. There must have been something in her eye because she kept wiping it with the ball of her fist. During the time the two were in school she always turned away from the boy as if she couldn't stand the sight of him. But now she was watching him and wouldn't turn away as the distance between the two of them became greater and greater.
When the boy got home he saw that his father hadn’t returned from work yet. His mother was getting their supper ready. She was crouched on the floor of the kitchen using her pestle and mortar when the boy walked in. She wanted to talk to him about the girl.
“Did you know that her family is always moving from one village to the next? That is what they are saying.” Who ‘they’ were the boy had no clue. “Some people think they are Communist spies and others think that they are running away from a dark past.” The boy didn’t like how his mother was talking about the girl’s family. It bothered him to hear such rumors. His mother let out a long sigh and shook her head. “Oh, and that poor little girl! Can you blame her? No wonder she doesn’t have any friends!”
Suddenly, the boy ran to the westward window of his house which overlooked Nom Kong or the Mekong River. An ache deep inside his chest which he had not felt before began to spread. He searched and searched for the long boat which the girl and her family were using to cross the river to Thailand, but as hard as he tried he could not find her. It was dusk and she was just too far away. The girl and her family were gone. The boy stood there for long time as the last of the rains of the wet season began.
Copyright © 2012. All Rights Reserved.
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