Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: End (02/13/06)
- TITLE: Beaver Bay: The Middle and the End
By Mary Lang
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The sun reflected bright rays off the water and Lani closed her eyes as memories rushed in. It didn’t seem that long ago that she and Bennett had met in a fishing village in Washington called Neah Bay.
“Hey Lani,” she remembered how deep his voice was. He was tall with raven black hair and brown eyes so dark they unnerved her: eyes that teased her while reading her soul. She had fallen in love on the spot even though she had always pooh-poohed the idea of love at first sight.
Oh he was a wild one, she thought, remembering the night they had gone crabbing in the Bay off the Olympic Peninsula. The boat sprung a leak that they didn’t discover until they were several miles out.
“Put your finger in the dyke, Little Lani,” he had laughed. “We’ll make it to shore.” And they had, but not before the bottom had a couple of inches of salty ocean water covering their toes.
She loved life with him; it was always an adventure in nature. Even his work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife kept him in nature, especially when the salmon were spawning.
“Lani, come with me to watch the salmon take their upstream trip,” he used to say. “We can watch them jump the cataract in the river.”
It was his adventurous spirit that had gotten her here, to Beaver Bay, the end of their happy world.
“Lani, let’s do a cross country trek,” Bennett had said. “It’d be great. We’ll use the ‘roads less traveled,’ to quote somebody, and cover the country end to end, almost 3600 miles west to east.”
“Bennett, what are you rambling about?”
“It’s perfect, Lani. Picture this. We’re here on the western end of the United States. Okay, maybe we’re not the westernmost place, but west enough. We could get to the easternmost in about 56 hours,” he laughed.
“I looked it up on the internet,” he told her. “We’ll go to Eastport, Maine. Heck, we’ll even stop in the middle of the trip at your hometown in North Dakota. Let you get in touch with your roots again. You’ve told me the Missouri River has lots of inlets and bays we could explore. What do you say? Let’s do it!”
So here she was. Looking out over Beaver Bay and remembering. She longed to hear his voice, feel his touch. But she was alone in the silent bay except for the water lapping mock homage at her feet.
Just a few days ago they had stopped to camp on the shore of this bay on their way east. That evening they had put their canoe into the water gliding with the current in the moonlight. She remembered how the campfires dotting the shore twinkled in the shadows of the dark woods. The night was perfect until the storm blew in.
She heard the screams first, but Bennett had acted first. In the dim reflection of the waning moon they saw the raft with a man and two boys caught in the current, their oars gone. The wind and current were pushing them toward the swollen Missouri river. Not hesitating Bennett dove in and swam to the raft. He grasped its mooring rope and with strong strokes pulled the raft toward shore.
In the windy darkness, he never saw the log as the waves slammed it into the side of his head.
In the water Lani was knocked aside by the log, but managed to grasp the raft’s rope and loop it around a tree, securing the safety of the passengers. By the time she got to Bennett, it was too late.
The doctor said she had done the right thing by anchoring the raft.
“Ease your guilt, Lani,” the kind doctor had said. “Bennett did not drown.”
“May your adventurous spirit never be diminished,” she prayed holding the urn containing his ashes over the bay.
"As soon as we finish what we started, Bennett, you can rest,” she said clasping the urn close to her heart. “But first I'll take you to Eastport, Maine. You'll see the country end to end just as you planned.”
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