Sitting on the banks of the river, preferably with a good book to read, was one of Carole’s favourite pastimes since she was retired. She had no children, had never married, although now and again there was a romantic spark in her life. Carol just never found Mr. Right, but she had her work in the office and now after her working life had come to an end she had to find something to keep her occupied. The bench on the riverside was ideal. It was not so far from where she lived, a five minute walk, and it was peaceful; at least it was until a man sat next to her.
“A nice day today” he said “and nice and quiet here on the river.”
Carol felt she should say something, even if she was just being polite and so agreed “Yes, definitely, just the place to get settled with a good book.”
“Don’t go in for reading much myself” her bench companion carried on “I just like to observe the scenery. Do you often come here to read?” he asked
“Since being retired, yes quite often.”
“I am often here” was the answer “I like to keep an eye on my boat.”
Carol looked at the river, but the only boat she saw was quietly rusting away in the water. It looked as if it had been there for a few years and she had never seen anyone look after the boat.
“Do you mean that old boat moored in the middle of the river?” she asked.
“Oh yes, that’s mine, although I have got too old to do any more river journeys with it, and it has too many sad memories. By the way my name is Albert, but most people call me Bert.” And he looked at Carol so intensively when he said this that she automatically introduced herself to Bert.”
“You said you have sad memories Bert”
“Yes, well when me and my girl were younger we would often take her, the boat, downstream and make a little tour around the coast, but since my Mavis died, I am on my own and have got a bit old for that sort of thing.”
“Oh, I am sorry to hear that you are now alone” although Carol was wondering why this Bert still kept his boat on the river. He never used it any more and it was slowly but surely falling apart.
“I know what you are thinking Carol, but it was on our last journey together with the boat that I lost Mavis and I just can’t bring it upon myself to get rid of the boat. It was a stormy day and the waves were so high, Mavis just got washed overboard. It all happened so quickly: once she was there and then she was gone” and Bert had to wipe some tears from his eyes. He continued.
“Of course I looked everywhere, but there was nothing to see. Then one of those big ships passed by and that was the end of Mavis. She got caught in the propeller and it was awful to see in the water. Just broke my heart. She was eighteen years old at the time, but she meant everything to me. After it all happened life just wasn’t the same any more. I was so used to her coming to the door when I came home. I was thinking about getting a replacement, but Mavis was my one and all and I just couldn’t give my heart to another.
What about you are you alone?”
Carol had to make a clever answer. This Bert person was becoming a bit strange, talking about replacing his wife and her only being 18 years old. Bert must at least be her age and it would mean that he had had a very young wife.
“No, I am not really alone, I have a companion who lives with me.”
“Oh glad to hear that Carol, nothing worse than having to live on you own at our age. I think I really should get a replacement for Mavis. I am sure you are glad for the company at home.”
“Yes Cedric is a darling and I just do not know what I would do without him. I could never make such interesting journeys with him as you have with your Mavis, but he doesn’t like the water so much. He prefers to spend his time in the garden”
and so the two elderly people spoke about their life with and without their companions.
On his way home Bert found it a shame that Carol seemed to have a friend. That would have been a lady he could have imagined starting a friendship with. She was so sympathetic when he had told her of his dog Mavis and how he had lost her. However, Bert decided life could not go on in this way. He made the decision to have the ship taken out of the river and once and for all destroyed. It really had too many bad memories. He also decided to go to the local kennels and see if they had a nice homeless dog, something like Mavis. It was never too late to make a new start in life.
Carol breathed a sigh of relief when she said her goodbyes to Bert. He was a nice person, and under other circumstances she could perhaps have started a good friendship, but this relationship with Mavis seemed a bit strange. Thank goodness she told him about Cedric. Cedric was a wonderful cat, now approaching ten years, but one of the best friends she could have.
Did Carol and Bert perhaps meet again at the riverside? Did Carol discover that the old rusty boat was no longer moored in the middle of the river? Perhaps Carol met Bert as he was going for a walk with his new dog Mavis two, and Bert found out that Cedric was a cat. Life is full of mysteries I suppose.
Rita's "Riting" Challenge Week #14: A meeting at the River