Cassandra’s Tears

Tears of joy, tears of pain, we are reflected in the salt-water pools we create. So let us build a fleet of paper boats and sail them on our ocean of indecision, laughing at the wind-whipped white-crested waves that would wash over us, drowning us in our own despair, yet somehow never vanquishing us in the end.

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Location: Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada

Sunday, November 28, 2004

In one life, how many times can the heart break?

In one life, how many times can the heart break? Samuel looked up from the grassy mound at his feet and read the inscription on the stele in front of him:

Martha Bagget
Loving wife and mother
Resquiat in pace

Next to her tombstone was a smaller stone, a child’s stone:

Catherine Baggett

and another:

Joshua Baggett

Samuel sighed and raised his eyes farther, looking past the other markers in the small cemetary, seeking the distant hills, the dark woods and the high cirrus clouds like gauze curtains in the bright sunlight. How many times indeed? He whistled once and Brandy came bounding back from where he had been inspecting the scents left by others of his race, leaving his own signature atop theirs.

Samuel leaned heavily on his cane as he descended the hill and found the path to his own cabin. So many years of labour and loss weighed heavily on him. Somehow he had managed to keep going. First Cathy died of scarlet fever. That had been a terrible blow. She had been the apple of his eye, the delight of his soul. She ran to him through the apple orchard of his memory, golden curls framing her cherubic face, apple blossoms caught in their folds. Then it was Joshua, swept away by measles. Only it hadn’t been the measles that had killed him, but the meningitis that followed. He had been Samuel’s little man, his future. Samuel had shown him the manly arts: how to whittle with a pen knife, how to test the wind with a moistened fingertip for direction, when the fish bit; and Martha, Martha his partner in life, through thick and thin, sickness and health, who had caught Joshua’s measles and cared for him even when she could do nothng for herself. Gone. All gone. As though they had never been, except for the stone markers on the hillside.

Samuel settled into the wicker chair on the porch and watched the sun lower itself towards those distant hills. He too would be gone soon. There was no reason to hang around. Brandy whined as though sensing his master’s thoughts and Samuel scratched him behind his ears. It’s like water under the bridge, he thought to himself. The river gets dug deeper, but the water that did the digging is long gone. There was no point breaking Brandy’s heart too. Samuel could wait at least that long.


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