The Gift: A novel

My project for A man finds himself alone on a paradisical island where has has no need to work to support himself. His life is spent transforming the island.

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Location: Los Angeles, United States

I am an awkward, stubborn, slightly insane woman who would rather talk Plato than Prada, rather watch Frank Capra than Carrie Bradshaw, and rather listen to Norse myths sung in Icelandic than anything currently on the radio. Yeah. Told you I was weird.


Monday, November 29, 2004

Chapter 31: Lethe

The two men stood by the riverside, unsure of whether they were meant to cross it, or whether they should stay on their own side. Finally, Dranger set his pack down by the bank of the river, and carefully began walking across on the flat broad stones that lay at intervals in the stream. As he set foot on the opposite side of the river, he knelt and cupped his hands. Dipping them into the stream, he drank the fresh water and poured handfuls of it over his head. Gasping for breath, he shook his head to clear the water from his eyes, and looked at Cobb, who still hesitated on the other side of the river. "Aren’t you coming across?"
He shuffled his feet uneasily. "I’m not sure I should. I mean, I can see fine from over here, and I’m not sure I’m supposed to cross the river."
"It’s not going to drown you. Besides, the water tastes great, really refreshing. C’mon across."
Cobb hesitated a moment more, then slipped the pack from his shoulders, and stripped off his rather dirty undershirt. Carefully, he moved across the water and crouched down at the far side. He splashed water onto his sun-browned face, shivering as the water ran in rivulets down his bare skin. As soon as the cool water touched his skin, he forgot the exhaustion of the climb and the dirt and grime of the journey. He felt the sun shining warm upon his face, and smelled the sweet smells of the island’s fruit-laden trees.
They turned to face the figure of the woman in the chariot, and cautiously approached.
"It can’t be...I’m awake, still alive...You’re dead."
She nodded. "Yes. But I told you that I would come to you when you could no longer see your way. And you cannot see, which you already know; but you are finally ready to see." She extended a hand, falling to one knee beside the stream. "You must wash first, though." Smiling, she laughed again, stopping his heart for a moment, "You can’t see yourself, but I can. Trust me."
He stepped into the stream, sinking in the mud until the water flowed over his knees. She held up her hand for him to stop, and she scooped up water and poured it over his head. He submitted to her ministrations, and began scrubbing away the grime that had built up. He never thought water could feel so good.
Finally, his skin shone clean, like newly polished bronze, and he arose from the stream on the lady’s side of the river. He turned and knelt in the soft grass at the side of the water and took a deep draught of the crystal clear water.
At that moment he forgot the past decades spent on the island. He forgot the pain and loneliness, the frustrations, and the sheer blind grief. He looked up and saw her, shining like the sun, and her light no longer dazzled his eyes.
Seeing his astonishment, she laughed, smiling at him. With a swift motion, she drew back her veil, and he saw her full face.

copyright 2004 Elizabeth J. Weaver


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