Nymph of the Wood
Chapter 9

Copyright© 2012 by Lance Manne

I guess that's why it's called an accident. During my career, I had occasionally been required to fill out accident reports for my employees. According to management, almost every accident has a root cause. It's always our first reaction to say that it was, "just an accident."

An event happens that is so unexpected. A key piece of equipment might fail. A freak storm might come out of nowhere. Your attention might be diverted for a split second as the semi-truck, with an unconscious driver, slams into your vehicle. It's the unusual situations that finally claim the life of the person who had been cautious and had always taken the time to prepare.

In my case, I had not seen the danger lurking just below the surface of the water.

When I finally came to, I thought I was in heaven. The light around me was very bright. The ground upon which I was lying was very soft. Birds were singing brightly in the trees. The temperature was just prefect. Standing over me was a person in white raiment. I figured it must be an angel. Behind the angel was a massive white wall. I surmised that it was probably the walls around the heavenly city.

As my eyes began to focus, I began to see more clearly. The person standing over me was actually a beautiful woman. Looking closer, I guessed that it must be a Nymph. The huge white wall was actually a sandstone cliff. The place where I lay was the white sandy beach along the river.

I sensed that the Nymph was communicating with me, letting me know that I was safe and that I would be just fine. I tried to look at her ankles, but the flowing material was covering them. I looked up at her form, attempting to avoid looking directly into her eyes.

She was magnificent. The sun shining through her covering allowed me to see the soft outline of her feminine shape. She was a woman, there was no hiding that. Her scarf had most of her neck covered, but I thought I saw a small area that could have been gills.

I looked upon her face. Her cheekbones were high and very pleasing. Her skin was tanned from the sun. Her lips were full and luscious. Her hair was past her shoulders and a beautiful auburn color.

I knew that her lips had touched mine and that she had blown her breath into me. I sensed that she had given me a second chance at life. While I was observing her, I received a nonverbal message. I could tell that she was pleased by the value that I placed on the living things around me.

I felt a deep urge to look into her eyes. I wanted to see and feel a peace unlike any other I had known. I wanted to feel that sense of love that I had been longing for. I was afraid that this might be my last chance to experience that feeling.

Then I remembered what Sven had told me. He had looked into those eyes and had become mesmerized by what he saw. His curse, or blessing, was that he could never love another. As much as I wanted to experience that deep love, I did not want to lose my ability to love someone who could be with me always. I again looked at her face, but with sadness in my heart, I avoided her eyes.

When she saw that I was conscious and appeared to be recovering nicely, the Nymph walked into the water and disappeared. I thought she had left, but soon she reappeared with my canoe. I sensed that it had become trapped on a sandbar, a short distance downstream. The spare paddle had remained tied to the supports. My tackle, rod, and cooler appeared to be missing.

After beaching the canoe, the Nymph sat next to me, pulling her legs in close to her body. This allowed the fabric to move up and I was able to see a section of the bone that ran along her ankle. It was arranged in such a way that, in my eyes, it only added to her beauty.

She once again let me know that she was pleased with me. She sat there for some time as we enjoyed the warmth of the sun and the beauty of our surroundings. I felt no desire to hurry on. I looked at the side of the canoe for my fish. I was not surprised to see that my stringer was empty. I sensed that she was communicating with me that I would have little difficulty in finding something else to eat.

I finally sat up next to her and looked around. I wanted to remember that feeling of intense peace that I had felt only one other time. I looked at the Nymph again. She had breathed life into me. Those soft luscious lips had touched mine. Air from the lungs of that incredible body had passed into my own. As that thought crossed my mind, I saw a smile begin to show on her face.

A few moments later, she arose and walked down the shore a short distance. She walked around a bend and she was gone. I was left with my thoughts and the beauty of the world around me.

I had experienced, once again, an encounter with a Nymph. How many people get even one chance? Why was I so fortunate? People drown every day in lakes and rivers. Does that mean that they are not kind or caring? I don't believe that would necessarily be the case. There must be some special reason that I was singled out. I wondered if I would someday find out why I had been spared.

I remembered back to a time when I had been canoeing down a river with Troy. I noticed that another canoe, containing a woman and her son, was heading for a pile of tangled branches in the water. I tried to yell and warn her about the danger ahead. I tried to tell her to paddle hard and turn her canoe, but she must have been unable to hear me.

Knowing what was about to happen, I instructed Troy to start paddling in their direction. We arrived, just as the canoe struck the tangled mess. The woman panicked as the boat overturned and she was flung into the water. Her son clung to the canoe and was carried downstream.

I will never forget the look on that woman's face. It was one of utter terror. As Troy steadied our canoe, I slipped into the water and pulled her toward the shallows. It took some effort, but I finally made it to an area where she could stand on firm ground. Troy went after her son and helped to guide him back to his mother.

The woman could not thank me enough. I just smiled and said I was glad to help. I said I had done what anyone else would do. After all, isn't that why we are here; to help one another? If we can't help another person in a time of need, then we are indeed a sorry individual.

Looking around, I made an assessment of her situation. I knew that the river widened after that point. I knew that the landing was not that far down. I didn't foresee any other obstructions that might be a cause for concern.

I passed that information on to the woman and her son. Then we helped them into their canoe and pushed them off. I could see hesitation on her face. She relaxed when I told her that we would be right behind her and that we would ensure that they arrived at their pull-out spot safely.

After my short period of reminiscing, I climbed back into my canoe and slowly paddled my way back upstream. I was in no big hurry to be anywhere. Since I was not fishing, I was able to concentrate on the scenery around me. I spotted some ducks swimming along the shore. A fish jumped; leaving an ever expanding ring just off to my left. An Osprey soared overhead. The world around me suddenly seemed more vibrant and full of life.

I noticed the lush vines that hung from the tress. I spotted honeysuckle flowers along the shore. Trunks of fallen trees were in various stages of decay and had become a source of nourishment for the abundant and multi colored moss and fungi.

I passed a stone wall where a mill had once stood. The power of the river had once turned a huge paddle wheel which had run someone's operation. The force of the water had provided the energy which had helped to provide them with a source of income upon which to live. It was indeed an amazing river.

I eventually made my way back to the landing spot. After I had landed on the soft white sand, I lifted the canoe out of the water and carried it up to my vehicle. When everything was finally secure, I headed to a small café to get something to eat.

After a great meal, I went to visit a large rocky overlook located just outside of town. It was the highest point around and it allowed one to see in many directions. It was a great spot to stand and look at the fields, rivers, roads, and small towns that lay nestled in the valley. It was also a good place to sit and think.

As I gazed out over the land spread out before me; many thoughts ran through my head. I called the hospital and learned that there had been no change in my wife's condition. I called the vet to see if Bud was doing well or if they had learned anything. They had asked if they could watch him for a few days for the purpose of observing some symptoms that I had called about. The person who answered the phone told me that they had not found anything serious to report.

As I continued my reflections, I thought of all the people below me and all the different lives that they were leading. Some were farmers; earning their living off the land. Then there were the farmers wives; either taking care of the homestead or out working themselves. Add to that list the truckers, shop keepers, city workers, and the children that attended school.

They all lived in different houses than me, drove in different cars, and went home to different people. It is quite impressive when you think of all the lives that are being lived, all over the world. Your little life, which seems so important to you, is just one life in a mix of millions. Suddenly I felt very small.

It was getting to be later in the day, so I headed to a small campground along the river. Fortunately for me, I was able to find a site that was private and close to the water. I set up my tent and started a fire. There would be no fish for dinner that night, but I did have a nice steak that I had picked up from the local butcher.

After dinner, I sat and watched as the sun went down. It was a beautiful evening in the country. I wondered how many people would sit indoors and watch their televisions, oblivious to the majesty of the evening sky. When the sky grew dark, my eyes moved to watching the flames of the fire as they danced upward from the burning logs. While sitting and watching the fiery display, my thoughts shifted to my friends.

I had not heard of any change in my wife's condition. I had checked on her again, just after dinner. I had been told that she was improving, but that she had still not come out of the coma. I thought of how sad it was that we had grown so far apart. I thought about Bud and wondered what would have happened if he had been in the canoe with me when it tipped.

Would he have tried to save me? Would he have hit a rock or been carried downstream? I was actually glad that I had not brought him on the trip.

I thought about Valerie. I had not seen her much for the past several weeks. Our meetings had been brief; usually when one or the other was coming or going. She would always ask how my wife was doing. I thought about what a kind, fun, and thoughtful person she was.

Sitting around a campfire is always a good time for reflection and I did a good amount of that. I sat there until late into the night. When I finally put out the fire, I noticed that the sky was completely dark and the air had developed a slight hint of rain. The events of the day finally snuck up on me and I began to feel very tired. I crawled into my sleeping bag and was soon fast asleep.

Sometime during the night, I was awakened by the sound of pounding rain. Lightning and thunder claps filled the air. I knew I would be fine in my tent as long as the wind didn't get too bad. I lay there for a short time and listened to the sounds of the rain as it fell against my tent. The lighting strikes finally subsided and I was eventually able to return to my restful sleep.

When I awoke the next morning, I found the world around me to be soaked with rain. The river had risen and was surprisingly close to the overflow point. The ground and everything that had been left outside was drenched with water. The sky was gray and there was a constant drizzle in the air. It didn't look like the weather was going to change until much later in the day.

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