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Wagon Trails by Matthew

It was a hot and humid mid summer day. Since I had just finished my chores I thought I would take a walk down to the river to cool off for a bit. I walked to the house from the barn to let Ma know what my plans were. I sat down my egg crate inside the cellar door and yelled in to Ma.

“Hey Ma, I’m heading on down the river for a bit. I want to dip my toes into the river and cool off for a bit.”

“That’s fine Samuel, but you best be back by the time the sun goes down or I’ll send the dog out after you!!” That was a typical response from my Ma. I better do what she says or she’ll send the dog out! The funny thing is I don’t think our old Coon Hound Henry would hurt anyone. I don’t think it has moved more then an inch in the last week!

As I was on my way to the river the sun was beaming down on me. It was wicked hot! I could barely stand it, the sweat was dripping off my brows and into my eyes.  I thought looking at the dirt path in front of me would help take the strain off my eyes. When I looked down I noticed all the wagon trails that were left behind by the passerby’s.

The closer I was to the river the more trails I noticed. One set went to the left some to the right and some headed towards the river. Noticing all the different trails got me thinking about the people or the different families that made those trails. With every trail made there had to be a memory made. I just wonder what those memories might be. I noticed some of the trails crossed and I wonder when they did cross was a new friend or enemy made or did it simply cross at a different moment in time.

Finally, the river. I propped myself up against a big old tree on the rivers edge and dipped my feet into the nice cool water. As I was enjoying the refreshing water and listening to the water rush by I began to nod off. 

“What you doin here boy?!” is what I heard as I jumped to my feet. There was an old crippled man standing next to me using a tree branch as a cane.

“Well…hi…Mister, my name is Samuel. I come here often…. Do you? “I wasn’t sure what to say to the man I was so startled. The old man chuckled and sat down on the ground beside me so I went ahead and sat back down.

“I have been coming here for many years Samuel. As a young boy I would sit and dip my toes into the river too. Sometimes you still might catch me!”

“Well Mister, I guess our trails finally crossed.” I said to the man with a smile. I was so relieved that he was a nice old man! I thought I would share with him about all the different wagon trails that I had seen on my way to the river. “Like see Mister” I pointed down the river to a spot were the wagon trail headed right into the river. “I wonder what kind of memory was made there? Probably not a good one, I would think.” I said to him.

“Well Samuel, I can tell you a little bit about the memory that goes along with that trail.”

“Okay, would you please?”  I pulled my feet out of the river and sat Indian style towards him focusing on every word he had to say.

“Late one foggy night a young fellow and his bride were heading home from celebrating there wedding. The man was not able to see due to focusing on his new bride along with the thick fog. He went right into the river and flipped the wagon over in the water onto them. The mans horses died instantly him and his wife were sharing the same air pocket under the wagon. The man was heard pleading to the Lord not to let his bride die. When the wagon was finally pulled from the water the man was seen doing everything he could to keep his bride above water, but without him knowing she had already passed on.”

“Wow… Mister, how do you know all this?” I asked.

“Well Samuel, sometimes the Lord gives you strength when you need it” the old man stated.

“That was you Mister, that pulled the wagon off of them?” I asked

“Yes Samuel, it was. I just wish I could have saved his beautiful bride.”

“I’m sorry Mister”

“There’s nothing to be sorry for, you have recognized something many folks don’t. Memories are very precious and folks you make them with are too.  Some folks may enter your life for a short amount of time. The trail they left behind may not be long but it forever left an impression in your heart and mind. Just always remember to take a little something from every trail you leave behind and appreciate the ones you make the trail with.” The old man put his arm on my shoulder and smiled.

“Well Mister, I best be heading home. I hope to see you here again one day.” I said to him as I stood up. I waved to the man as I was walking away from the river. As I headed on my journey back home I realized I never asked this nice old man his name. So I turned back and yelled “Hey Mister…” the man was gone. I ran back to the tree thinking I might find him on the other side. The only thing I found was his branch that he had used as a cane leaning up against the tree. I looked around for a bit and still I couldn’t see him. I grabbed the branch and started on my journey back home.

When I arrived to my driveway I noticed many types of trails…wagon trails, shoe trails, bare feet trails, animal trails and then I looked across the yard at my Ma hanging the cloths on the line, Pa shoeing the horses and my brothers and sisters playing ball using a branch as a bat. I looked down at the branch that the old man had left behind and thanked the Lord for everything he has given me and the strength he has shared with me when I had needed it. I even thanked the Lord for trails because if it wasn‘t for trails crossing I would have met that nice old man.  

Through Mark's Eyes
This is a story dedicated to Cowgirl (me) from Matthew

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