Plunk. Ripples spread out from the home made cork in concentric circles. The little boy knew all was well. At least for the moment. But that didn’t stop the flow of tears that cut channels through the dust on his face and fell to join the equally brown and troubled waters of the Mississippi River.
“What’s a matter son?”
The boy nearly dropped his cane pole in the waters beneath his feet as he whirled to see who had discovered his sanctuary. Didn’t everyone know this was sacred ground? A place meant for thinking not talking. Reserved for a boy’s innermost thoughts. The kind when a grown up asked what was wrong a boy always answered, “Nothin.” But then, once he was at his sacred place, he could spill it all out in the only vocabulary he knew. One grown ups almost never understood.
He almost gave that same answer to the stranger but to his surprise didn’t. Instead he blurted it all out in one long gush. Like the river, when man made levees can no longer hold back its spring floodwaters. “It just ain’t fair, that’s all. Momma’s all I got and now the doctor says she’s gonna die. It just ain’t fair. Momma says God will take care of her and I believe her. But what’s gonna happen to a little boy all alone like me?”
The stranger smiled and sat down on the dock. His black duster was covered with fine specks of cotton from the field he must have just walked through to get to the river bank. “What’s your name son?”
“That’s an odd name. How did your momma come up with that one?”
“Preacher says we’ve been saying it wrong since the day I was born. Says we spelled it wrong too. It’s a river in the Bible. Where Adam and Eve came from. Momma says she named me that because I was her Garden of Eden after my daddy left. He left before I was even born. Ain’t never seen him. Not even once.”
The man stood and gazed at the river’s far bank, over half a mile away. Euphratees followed the man’s eyes across the river and stood beside him. They stood still, connected by the majesty of the waters before them.
“Uncle Carver says fishing is as close to heaven as man can get in this world. He says God don’t count none of the days a man spends fishing against him. They’re like free days in a man’s lifespan. Least that’s what Uncle Carver says.”
There was no need to answer. The man placed a hand on Euphratees shoulder and gently squeezed. “A lot of people died right out in the middle of that water. I can still see them as they went under the night the John Adams hit a snag. They never had a chance to say goodbye to their mommas the way you can. “
“You was there?”
“Oh yes. I helped a number of them get home after it was over. “
“The folks you helped live here in Natchez?”
“No son. They live a long ways from here. Yet sometimes they’re actually a lot closer than anyone knows.”
The boy scratched his head and frowned. “Mister, you don’t make a whole lot of sense. How can they live far away and yet be close by all at the same time?”
The man explained that it was like those folks were on the other side of the river standing in the morning fog. You know they’re there but you just can’t quite see them. He said they was standing there with they’re father cheering little boys on, that were on this side of the river.
“I’m here to help you’re momma just like I did those other folks. But don’t worry she’ll be waiting for you. She’s already told you how to get there. You won’t see her for a while but you’ll always know she’s there.”
The boy nodded and turned to look straight in the strangers eyes. “But what about me until I get over there? What’s gonna happen to me?”
“You’re daddy will take care of you.”
“But my daddy ain’t no where to be found.”
“No son. Not the man who fathered you. Your Daddy who made that river and you. He will take care of you. Just ask him.”
Euphratees grinned. Plunk. The cork went back in the water. All was well. Forever.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Savior Right Now - CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.