She stood there, transfixed on something in front of her or perhaps a phantom from another time and place. Was it a lost soul she was focusing on or a memory of the future or the past?

A rose flowed on past deliberately – in criss crossing patterns, crashed into a rock, held up by a branch and then set free by the current. She thought about that rose and knew she was being swept forward and backward by a power she could not name or understand.

She sat down and took a deep breath; twisted open her flask of vodka and swallowed a good swallow. She lay back and rested her head on her jean jacket, folded as a pillow. She closed her eyes and tried hard to clear her mind.

A dream, a memory, a song, a dance, a bedtime story from her childhood or perhaps a prayer from her Sunday morning prayers in the church across from this crazy river. It was on one of those Sunday mornings when Agee took her by her hand and led her to the clover patch by the lake – on the Catalina side – gave her fodder for confessions. Agee moved away the next day to the West Coast and that was fine with her. He was a simple guilty pleasure and a gentle guide through the gates of innocence.

She opened her eyes and sat up – watched as another rose tumbled upon the river towards a destination unknown. The rose was a full stemmed American Beauty which reminded her of an evening in her future.

A piano was playing an instrumental so familiar it brought a tear into her thoughts, an older man was holding her hand as he led her towards the dance floor in the center of the room. There were roses surrounding the dance floor, couples dancing slowly and a sense of…what? She couldn’t describe it. Was it sadness? Was it love?

The river was in a tempestuous mood now and she stood up to have a closer look. White caps, raging, racing, rushing and violently heading towards its ending where it would be joining the Atlantic ocean just east of here. Roses, stems and petals.

Suddenly she jumped with a start, someone was calling her name, a familiar voice from another place and time, perhaps?

She heard her name, “Rose, Rose.” A worried tinge in the sound of the voice of her mother and she knew it was time to turn back away from the tempest in front of her. A river afire is a river to watch from a distance.

Back in her time she followed the path she had wandered years ago which had led her to on her journey.

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