The Mud on the Bottom of the River,

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(short story)

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Page 5

One day, and a moderate gust, one of his halyards snapped sending the line down, flopping into the water, seconds later the mainsail and the boom came careening over the side of the boat. The boat rocked and rolled. James scrambled around trying to get the boat under control. Amazingly despite the water coming into the cockpit, the boat did not capsize. Yet the boom was in the water, and the mainsail waterlogged. James slowly turned the tiller to bring the bow into the wind to keep the boat from capsizing. The boat came to, and the jib flapped wildly. He pulled the tiller in and tightened the jib. The boat heaved-to. He dragged the boom and the waterlogged sail back onto the deck and lashed them down. Resignedly hen he tried to start the motor, he realized that the prop was stuck in the rigging now being dragged under the boat. The motor was stuck, and the mainsail lashed uselessly to the deck. Yet he'd survived the challenge. Somehow he limped the boat back to the marina under the staysail.

Eventually the motor went out, which he replaced. He replaced the entire running rigging on the boat. The tear in the jib was re-sewn, and he replaced the interior cushions. He'd gone over every inch of the boat, varnished the wood surrounding deck portal, even had someone put a new undercoat of paint on it. Yet it would never be as good as new. But James didn't care, in fixing the boat, he'd come to understand his own life as well.

Then he found her, his she hated the water, in fact she didn't particularly like the adventurous hobbies which he had taken up, she didn't ski, she didn't scuba dive. Mostly she didn't share his passion for the boat, she said it brought out the selfish, melancholy, individualistic side of his personality. Yet around her he was engaging and nurturing. Somehow she was able to see the event in his life not as failures, simply as something which shaped his past. Slowly his time on the boat dwindled. Where once his boat would have dominated his thoughts and conversations, now it seemed but a pleasant side note. In fact a lot of the people he met after that, didn't even know he owned a boat. He used the boat less. The fact that his boat became another one of those boats in the Marina, that never seemed to go anywhere. James wondered if each one has a story. Perhaps there were others owned by men jilted by love. And their presence there was but a symbol of their perseverance and survival.

He found himself thinking about marriage again; somehow it was fitting that he'd be selling his boat now. Given the business in his life he hadn't had the boat out for over a year, now anyways, and he'd probably use the money to buy an engagement ring.