The Mud on the Bottom of the River,

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(short story)

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Page 3

There was a young baby who lived downstairs from him. The child was constantly crying, night after night. This fact only reminded James that he lived alone now. The crying of the child downstairs, always resulted the gentle singing of his parents in concerned response. That soothing voice was a sound which by it's nature was supposed to cradle the soul and provide comfort to the troubled body. Yet even though it's so close to him, it might as well be a separate distant place far removed from the life he saw himself in, the sound of a baby crying rang hollow through his house. It was able to penetrate the cacophony which he raised, as if vainly trying to drown out a voice he didn't want to hear. He wondered if he was inherently genetically programmed to hear certain things? The sound permeates up through his floor as if to remind him of a life which possibly wasn't supposed to be his, which he doubted and wondered if he know if through some twist of fate he'd chosen to forsake it. Was he really a failure in life? Or if it was simply something which he was cursed only be outside of, and destined to be tempted to look into, but not invited to join. Perhaps the voice simply came to him, as if attracted to the dark vacuum suddenly appearing in his life.

It seemed ironic that just a few weeks earlier he had graduated with his M. Div. Here he was, supposedly having a Masters in Divinity. His diploma said that he was a master of all things divine. What was that supposed to mean. Despite all the great things in life he'd thought he'd done. Despite the fact that he had two degrees. It seemed like all the other people he'd mentored, and seen through these things. They all didn't seem to matter anymore. He had failed in the thing most important to him.

Surprisingly Sean, an old friend from his MIT days, a groomsman, who even realizing that the wedding was off, had flown into town anyways the day of the wedding. Sean inherently disliked being in Boston. For good reason too, there were far too many bad memories in the town for him to bear. He was a friend from his hometown, and was coming because he still had something for James. He was going to take him to Las Vegas to get out of the city, to forget his troubles. They had planned on going on a grand honeymoon, and yet here he was, mulling, depressed in his apartment. Sean didn't know why he chose Vegas, perhaps it was because it was the city where things are forgotten. And he didn't know what possibly could happen, but he had to help.

So the two of them had gone, in what was supposed to be the a happy trip, seemed to resemble a dreary march towards death. Sean was a good friend, Sean had been through a similar situation; in a way he might have been the one person who understood the best. He'd also been engaged to be married, while they were out there in Boston. Sean had watched his fiancé take her ring and fling it over the railing into the sailing basin. He'd felt his heart torn out, and sunk in mud, out in the middle of the river. Every day people would look out and be inspired by the flotilla of little sailboats slowly meandering across the river. Sean couldn't stand to look at the river.

James didn't know quite what to do, but said he'd figure it out when he got there. The first few days of the trip to Vegas were uneventful, although they saw the sights and played in the casinos, swam in the pool, and watched movies together. Yet they could not forget, they could not distract their minds from the horrible, sense of failure that permeated their lives. There was a deep sense of regret that permeated the trip.

So sitting in the hotel bar watching the basketball game, Sean had brought up sailing, and the ring, stuck in the mud on the bottom of the Charles river. James took his own engagement ring out of his pocket. James didn't know why he brought the ring out with him to Vegas, because it did remind him of her. How the only difference between the two of them was this his engagement ring was sitting on the bottom of the Charles River, somewhere in the spot where all those sailboats constantly passed over it. James didn't even know that Sean knew how to sail, let alone own a boat.

Yet Sean owned this sailboat that he rarely used. The reasons were numerous but mostly because he was a positively miserable sailor. In addition, the boat would always undoubtedly make him sick, and the few times he'd been out on it, the waves had scared him and he'd simply gone out under motor, without even raising the sails, yet he still got seasick, and found himself heaving over the side. His parents and friends were constantly telling him to get rid of it. But Sean couldn't, the boat was the one thing that he'd bought on a whim when he moved back to California. Sailing was the one thing that he'd always regretted never doing while he was at MIT, yet something that he never seemed to have time for. And now, he still didn't have time. As if the boat, were the representation of the ring which he'd lost. It was berthed in the Bay Area, three thousand miles from where his ring lay. In a way the boat was part of his heart, the part of his heart that he had never been able to conquer, yet the part he wasn't about to give up. Yet it was this same part of his heart that he wanted to give to James. Now this might be just the thing James needed.

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