Sam’s lone, silent figure was barely discernible in the early morning shadows. Just when he thought he was all cried out, more tears came to his eyes and spilled down his cheeks. A myriad of emotions gripped him – sorrow, longing, anger, regret, and loneliness. He missed Ava more than he could ever have imagined.
His gaze traveled heavenward, sunlight trickling in small patches through the towering trees of the forest. He took two steps and a patch of sunlight caressed his face as a gentle breeze lifted strands of his silver hair. He closed his eyes allowing his senses to absorb the sounds and smells of the forest. He wondered why it seemed more poignant with his eyes closed. He inhaled deeply and sighed.
In the distance he could hear the babble of the creek, birds sang, squirrels went about their business. The sounds and smells were soothing, almost ethereal to Sam. Turning his head, he saw a doe and its fawn. Briefly his eyes locked with the doe’s before she moved on, her fawn close behind. Was that accusation he saw in her eyes? “I’m sorry,” he whispered, fighting back a fresh onslaught of tears.
He wished he could stay here forever, but it was not to be. His stuff was all packed in his truck so there was no need to go back to the cabin that had been his home for fifty years.
Memories tumbled through his mind like pieces in a kaleidoscope bouncing over each other. He had brought his bride here. One son had been born here, and then a second, and after several years, God blessed them with a daughter. He had added rooms and a porch to accommodate his growing family.
Ah, the memories. Faintly, from a distance, he could hear an engine whine as a vehicle made its way up the road. He chose to ignore it for the moment. Progress, everyone said. For over a year he had refused to give into the pressure to sell his property so a lodge could be built. The money he was offered was good -- better than good -- but how could he forsake the land he loved?
It was time to move on. His beloved Ava was gone, his children grown with families of their own. They never loved the quiet, secluded life that he and Ava loved. They moved to big cities when they got the chance.
The faint whine of an engine grew increasingly louder. Sam squared his shoulders, and wiped his eyes. Maybe he’d come stay at the lodge sometimes. They had offered it as part of the package deal. But, no, he knew he wouldn’t. He wanted his memories to be as it was now.
A truck pulled up. The construction supervisor, Bill, a nice guy, emerged once he’d parked. His eyes were full of compassion as he approached Sam. Clapping him on the shoulder, Bill murmured, “They’ll be here soon, Sam.”
“I know,” Sam said, nodding his head. He slapped his hat against his leg before placing it on his head. “Dad’s Indiana Jones hat,” his sons called it. He chuckled softly.
Bill cocked his eyebrows. “You okay, Sam?”
“Yessiree, Bill, I’ll be fine, and that’s the truth. Thinking of going on a real adventure. Maybe an African safari , or hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Better than spending my time whining about missing Ava and losing my home. I may be old, but I’m fit as a fiddle. I got a bucket list, Bill. You got a bucket list?”
Bill tried to grin, but it didn’t make it to his eyes. “Now that’s the spirit, Sam, although I think the only bucket list you’ve ever had is this,” Bill said with a sweep of his hand, to which Sam only chuckled.
They both felt the rumble under their feet, and heard the roar of approaching equipment. They turned their heads in the direction of the road although it would be several minutes before anything came into view.
Sam stuck out his hand and Bill gave it a hearty shake. “I’ll be on my way. I don’t think I have the heart to watch them tear down trees and demolish my home. Take care, Bill.”
“You too, Sam. Go do that bucket list. You deserve it.”
Sam glanced at his cabin before starting his truck. He raised hand in farewell, and Bill waved in return, the sadness in his face mirroring Sam’s.
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