Please, NO reflection on any actual persons. RIVER WATCH. By Marjory M Thompson I watched the boy as he stood by the river watching the small boat bob in the water. I thought that I could almost read his mind though I did not as much as know his name. He had been there, by the river, for several mornings as I walked by on my way to work. There was no sign of anyone accompanying him: any voice calling to him. No indication of where he came from. He was clean and nicely clothed, yet, he had an air of ‘loneness’ about him. Provided for, but missing something. Once, as I veered off the path towards him, he (without seeming to look towards me) stiffened and veered away from me. I resumed my normal route; he stopped moving, but did not relax his stance. He was there again the next morning, slightly turned as if to watch my approach along the footpath. I wanted to reach out to him, offer help if he needed it. Let him know that there was nothing to fear. I did not do so. Today as I watch him watch the boat, I stopped. He did not move. He was faced so that he could see me had he a mind to do so.Yet, today he did not move as I left that trail and crossed the lawn to where he stood. Neither of us spoke as we watched the boat bob in the water as it slowly moved away from us. I knelt on the grass a few feet away from him. After a few minutes, I said, “I wonder where it is going.” “Far way,” was his reply. “Who might be riding the boat in the soft waves?” “Ma and Pa.” “Will they come back?” “No...They can’t.” At a loss for words, I was silent for a short span. Yet I felt there was more he needed to say. “Why?” “Their boat sank. They will forever be in the sea.” “You love them and now you miss them.” “Yes.” “They loved you, too.” He nodded yes. I hesitated again, but asked because I felt it needed to be asked, “You wish you were with them?” “Yes, but I can not go.” I swallowed hard in relief. “Why?” “Before they left, Ma told me she loved me and reminded me to mind Granny. Pa said he loved me too, said I was big and strong and to look after Suzy.” “Who is Suzy?” “My baby sister. She just had her third birthday.” “...and you are being big and strong for Suzy.” Another node. I am not sure why I said what I did next. It was not a question. “Big and strong boys don't cry.” We were quiet as together we watched the tiny boat bobbing further and further from us. “You know, I bet your Pa would say it was OK - when you were hurting really, really bad - when you’re lonesome - and miss them - it is OK to cry.” He turned to look at me with deep, sad eyes as he replayed in his mind the words he had just heard. His eyes bore into mine. I opened my arms, and without seeming to move, he was there with me. We held tightly to each other. No words were spoken. His tears soaked my shirt as his small body racked with sobs. From the corner of my eye, I caught a movement, and then saw a stooped, aged woman moving towards me. There were tears running down her face, but her lips were silently repeating over and over. “Thank You.” The boy turned as he sensed her presence. She sat on the grass and he moved into her waiting arms. Together they sat as their healing tears combined. I rose to leave and nodded at her softly whispered, “Thank you”. As I crossed the bridge over the river, I stopped. The tiny boat had disappeared. Looking to the riverbank, I saw the boy and his Granny sitting on the grass, talking as they watched the river.