Sunday, May 19, 2019

time ...

     Time passed for both Riku and Cierra.

     For Cierra, it crept along slowly.  Each day dragged longer than the previous one.  Summers were especially hard.  She would spend two weeks searching the river where Riku had been lost, marking her progress on a map, alternating from one bank to the other each year.  Since nothing else had ever been found, clothing or bones, a part of Cierra held on to the hope that somehow he had survived.  Although if he had, she couldn't understand why he hadn't come home.

     At night, she always dreamed of searching for him, seeing him in the distance and struggling to reach him.  Some nights he was in the river, and she would be swimming after him, or running along the river bank calling his name.  Others, she would see him standing in a field and no matter how fast she ran towards him, she was never able to reach him even though he wasn't moving.

     One night she dreamt of him sitting beside a campfire with several other people.  She was across the fire from him, but frozen in place and unable to move or speak.  She could hear his voice, his laughter, and watched as the light from the fire reflected in his eyes when he smiled.  He looked strong, muscled as if he had been working out and lifting weights.  Cierra felt the heat from the fire and could smell the wood burning.  Somewhere out of view, she could smell meat cooking and her stomach growled as she salivated.

     When she woke, the dream stayed on her mind for more than a month.  It was the most realistic dream she had ever had in her life.  She continued to smell the wood smoke for several days afterward.  Cierra wasn't a believer in out-of-body experiences, but she thought to herself that if she had been, it probably would have been just like her dream.
    The opposite had been true for Riku.  Weeks passed as quickly as days, and months seemed to vanish.  When he realized he had been with the tribe for nine years he was astounded.  Had it really been that long?  He felt a sense of urgency in everything he did, and a pull to leave but he didn't know where he was supposed to go.  The tribe had welcomed him as if he had always been one of their own, but he sometimes felt like an outsider looking in.

     The blond haired woman haunted his dreams, as did the flowers.  Some nights he dreamed of being in the river, but he knew that was more of a memory than a random dream.  He wondered if the blond haired woman was also from the part of his memories that still eluded him.

     As time had sped by, bits and pieces of his memory would also reappear.  He knew now that he had a Ph.D. in botany, but couldn't remember what university he had attended.  He remembered working with trees but didn't know for whom.  Riku also remembered having family in Japan, and friends in Wisconsin, but couldn't remember names or exactly where.

     One October night as he sat around a bonfire talking and laughing with several of the elders, Riku had glanced up and through the flames, he thought he had seen the blond haired woman staring at him from the other side of the fire.  A log suddenly popped in the fire and sparks flew up.  When the flames dropped back, the vision of the woman was gone, but the image of her face stayed with him.  He knew her.  Intimately.  Of that he was certain.  He knew then that wherever she was, that was where he was supposed to be.

     The following spring he packed his belongings and said goodbye to the people who had rescued and adopted him.  He hitched a ride to Prince Rupert and from there he planned to make his way to the United States.  Stopping into the local post office to mail a postcard to Howard and Margaret letting them know he had made it there and would be leaving in two days for Vancouver, he had glanced up at a faded flyer thumbtacked to the bulletin and stopped in his tracks.

     He was staring at his own face.


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