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Along The Coast

I find myself walking along the rolling hills by a coast much as I have done on numerous occasions in my youth. (I remember my grandmother taking my hand as we walked the two or so miles along the downs for afternoon excursions to town.)  A well-worn path is all that I can follow.  Waist high grass sways to the rhythms of the strong breeze.  After an undisclosed amount of time (for time seems inconsequential), I arrive at the crest of a hill.  The view is magnificent.

Churning below is the North Atlantic surf which pounds the rocky beach -- as if to remind each whom is master.  Churning above are the ominous clouds that warn that the November gales are coming. Halfway down the sharp slope that makes its way to the ocean, a figure sits calmly beside a pond.  At this moment I realize that choice is not something I have control over.  The path leads down.  I follow.

As I make my way down, the figure turns, ever so slowly.  A boy, no more than ten, looks upon me.  He is wearing a fisherman's sweater tucked within hip weighters.  A cap tries to hide, unsuccessfully, a healthy patch of disheveled hair.  Fingerless gloves warm his hands.  One hand clutches a fishing rod; the other a tackle box.

"You've come," he says.

"Why ... yes ... I think so..." is my reply.

"I knew you would," he says.

Something in the way he says this catches my attention.  So calm, so soft is his voice that it strikes odd.  Amidst the swirling winds, the battering surf, it is this voice that rises above all. How surreal the moment is.  I finally realize that I have no idea how I have come to be here, nor why this journey has come to pass.

"What's your name?" I ask after an awkward moment.

"Benjamin.  But everybody calls me Benny," he says.

"Hello Benny," I say. We share an extended pause until finally I ask, "where are we?"

"On our farm... my families.  This is our pond.   My brother and I come here a lot to fish, at least we used to, until.... well you know."

I don't know, but somehow I feel an answer is not long in coming.  I decide to press the issue.  I offer a question. "What do I know, Benny?"

Benny ignores my question totally.  "Can you read mister?" he says.

"Yes," is my terse reply.  I feel upset with myself for being so short with my answer.  He has caught me off guard.  Benny, however, is unaffected.

"Yeah, I thought so," he says softly.  And with that he shakes his head up and down in a reassuring nod.


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