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The River Girl and the Boy That Loved Her: A Short Story

Updated on July 26, 2012
dohn121 profile image

Dohn121 is a freelance writer who currently resides in the foothills of the Shawangunk Mountains of New York's famed Hudson Valley.

Author's Note:

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.


Courtesy of
Courtesy of | Source

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.

Plumeria or Dok Champa, the National Flower of Laos
Plumeria or Dok Champa, the National Flower of Laos | Source

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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    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      6 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      The little girl had certainly learned to protect herself from being hurt. But the boy thought it meant she disliked him. That is a sad thing to consider. Well done here.

    • dohn121 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      You're welcome agaglia. Thanks for the positive review. I'm happy to hear it.

    • agaglia profile image

      Annette Gagliardi 

      6 years ago from Minneapolis

      Thank you for the lovely love story.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I LOVED your kapoon reipce except i mortared together garlic, fresh red pepper, a few shallots, and lemon grass, then i added shrimp paste. It was so good and my boyfriend whom is Lao loved it! I am so glad you made this site! My request is how to make egg rolls everytime i ask my boyfriends family to let me help them make it they always have them made before i get there(I think they want to go to the grave with the reipce lol) I know there is finely shredded cabbage and carrots, bean thread noodles, salt, sugar, fish sauce, eggs, garlic, am I missing something?Thank You!

    • dohn121 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thank you very much for commenting, mizjo. It's good to hear your response as it was exactly the kind of response I was hoping to receive. As far your assessment goes, it really is up to you to decide upon what the epilogue of the story should be. Most of the Lao refugees in the wake of the Vietnam war sought refuge in Thailand, namely Nong Khai, so your guess is historically accurate. Wonderful job.

    • mizjo profile image


      7 years ago from New York City, NY

      A lonely, achingly sad story, Dohn, almost Romeo and Juliet-like in the insuperable obstacles to young love.

      Maybe, some time in the future, if the gods are merciful, the boy journeys towards Thailand and meets her again?

    • dohn121 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Yes, it's been a long time. It's great to hear from you, Emie! To answer your question, no, there is no part 2 as I don't think it's necessary. I remember back when I started Revenge, Inc. I didn't have a part 2 and looked what happened :P I guess time will tell!

    • emievil profile image


      8 years ago from Philippines

      Hey Dohn. Been a long time. I don't always log in HP but tonight, I just felt like I need to log in or something. Good thing because I saw your story. Very sad and touching. Hope you create a Part 2 (is there one?) for this.

    • dohn121 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thank you very much, Jill. It's great to hear from you! This story came to me as I was beginning somewhat of a courtship with a very beautiful lady :D Thanks for the compliment!

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 

      8 years ago from Philippines

      What a beautiful story Dohn! It's been a while since I last visited and I'm happy that you have a new story!

      Rated up and beautiful!

    • dohn121 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thank you Astra Nomik. Reading your reaction to this story is exactly the kind of response I hoped to achieve when writing it. Thank you for taking the time to read it!

    • Astra Nomik profile image

      Cathy Nerujen 

      8 years ago from Edge of Reality and Known Space

      What a wonderful story about two people and unrequited love. The ending was so sad, but written so beautifully. The boy was broken-hearted... I'm glad I read this great hub.

    • dohn121 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thank you very much katyzzz. Writing this story meant a lot to me and so to hear good feedback from a familiar voice is very reassuring. Thank you!

    • katyzzz profile image


      8 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      A very touching tale dohn, such a simple theme but so different, it was lovely but sad to read and the boy will be changed forever.

    • dohn121 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thank you very much shiningirisheyes. It's always so rewarding to hear such positive feedback from those who appreciate my writing. I hope to share this story to my parents one day!

      Yes, the Hudson Valley is a great place to live. The best decision I've ever made was to attend school here. Maybe you should come and visit someday, especially the fall.

      Again, thank you!


    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      8 years ago from Upstate, New York

      dohn - You have me hooked with this beautiful and achingly sad love story. You have such a talent for writing and I hope to accomplish this as well as you have some day.

      I noticed, when reading your profile, that you are from The Hudson Valley. That is where some of my heritage originated from (American Indian). It is a beautiful area you live in. Enjoy.

      Thank you for this.

      Voting up

    • dohn121 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thank you so much drbj! It's wonderful to hear from you. Thanks for the encouraging words.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      A tale well told, dohn. Your sensitive writing makes me want to read more. I enjoyed this story.

    • dohn121 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thank you resspenser. I'm glad that you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Nice story, dohn1221. I enjoyed reading it!

    • dohn121 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thanks handymanbill. Much appreciated.

    • handymanbill profile image


      8 years ago from Greensburg Pennsylvania

      nice story


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