Literary Fiction Love

On the River

By Kevin Gendreau
429 words · 2-minute reading time
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He didn’t miss her.

Goodman piloted the small boat away from the sailing pavilion out into the rolling river. The afternoon was clear. A strong breeze blew down river towards the new suspension bridge.

Goodman looked fine sitting there, holding the tiller. His clothes were new. His haircut was new. He wore new contacts. Six months ago, he had hired a personal trainer. Even his teeth were new. The sailing lessons had been new too.

Goodman owned another life now, another simpler life without Mary. No more trays and pills; no more running up and down the narrow stairs. No more nights in the dark until four worrying about her. No more listening to her breathe from the spare bedroom. That was over now.

The wind filled the sail. The little boat glided out into the center of the river and got caught in the strong central current. It carried him past the condos on the shore, past the museum, past the tourist boats, past the college longboats with their muscled rowers and blaring megaphones.

The boat was new. The sail was new. Everything was new.

There was a time when he loved her. There was a time when he couldn’t go an hour without her. That was long ago.

How could he miss her? After the endless treatments, after watching her slowly waste away, a ghost of the woman he loved. Her hair had fallen out. Her bones had shown through translucent paper skin.

The little sailboat picked up speed. It slid under the new suspension bridge like a quiet reflection on the water.

Goodman looked up at the underside of the bridge and the great green beams of steel that held it all together. He tried to study the bridge’s construction because he thought he ought to be impressed, but he just felt empty.

He didn’t miss her.

The sun was setting on the water.  The soothing orange light spilled across the river and wrapped itself around the boat. You couldn’t tell where the water’s edge met the sky.

The boat emerged from under the bridge. Its sail was down.  Powerless, it lost its momentum and drifted.

The sun fell below the horizon. The sky was blue, edged with a rich purple.

Goodman was alone in the center of the river. He sat in the rear of the boat motionless. His face was buried in his hands. He lifted his head to the sky and opened his mouth but made no sound.

Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh Mary, he thought, I ache with missing you.

This story originally appeared in Honestly, I forget....


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