River Full of Tears

River Full of Tears

River Full of Tears
River Full of Tears

The river flowed swiftly after the heavy spring melt. This is when Aisling liked it best. She loved to sit in the little woodland nook and watch the water rush by. There were times in the past when she wanted to jump in and let the river take her swiftly, for it was a river full of tears, many of them her own.

River Full of Tears got its name from the ancients who lived in the shadow of the Great White Mountain. They believed a goddess lived up there, far above the people. She was the mother of the river that flowed down to the valley. The river was filled with tears when the goddess cried for her fallen children who died on the mountain. Most mountain climbers who went up there were experienced and always had a guide with them. Some of the less experienced refused to be led by a guide and often went up higher than the advised level where an avalanche could be easily triggered. Some found themselves on icy slopes with no way to get off and slid down into deep ravines. One year during a blizzard a military plane lost its way and crashed between the two highest peaks, killing the two pilots and all 39 young marines on their way to training camp. Several attempts over the years to rescue the bodies failed. So many dead are frozen up there and the mountain refuses to release them.

Aisling’s husband died in an avalanche when the rescue team he was on were buried by the all too common natural event. They had to go up higher than what is safe, to find two missing mountain climbers and lost their own lives. That was over ten years ago, they were all still up there, buried deep under ice. The mountain is unforgiving for those who tried to conquer her at high levels – the goddess cried, her tears filling the river every spring and Aisling cried with her.

When her husband died, Aisling was left to raise their two children on her own. They were young adults now, graduated from college and both in good marriages. It took Aisling a few years to get used to the fact that she was on her own. She took several college classes and narrowed her interests down to jewelry crafting and poetry. She found that beading was a meditative therapy and poetry was a way to express her long buried emotions. Both arts were very healing for her.

Aisling had two short relationships in the years since her husband died. They were both good relationships and both ended in deep sorrow for her. The first love died in a car accident and it sent her into deep depression for months. After about two years she was able to love again, but the relationship ended when she found out the man she loved and thought she could have a life with was married. After that she promised herself “no more loves”. Her poetry was very emotive, for it reflected deep love and deep sorrow. It was her release of deeply buried emotions.

She often wished time would spin her back to childhood, when things were free from sorrow. Friends, she had so many good friends from her early years, most of them still around. Yet, the only one she would have turned to in her times of sorrow was Marcus, who was now the Police Chief.

Since the second grade Marcus always seemed to be around. They squabbled as kids are want to do, but when she was hurt or upset it was Marcus she turned to.  As they grew into their teen years, he was still there for her. They often went to the nook to sit by the River Full of Tears just because they liked being with each other. Then when they went off to different colleges each went their own way. Aisling fell in love with the man she would marry. At their wedding, Marcus was quiet and kept his distance. That was unlike him and Aisling was hurt, but nothing could destroy her happiness, not even Marcus. A few year later, he married a woman from out of town. The years went by and both her and Marcus lost their spouses, but they never rekindled their old friendship.

When she opened her own shop in the historical little mountain village, her poetry books, beaded jewelry and handmade beaded skirts and tops sold very well to the tourists. The shop filled her days with joy. Still, she cried a lot when alone. If not for her German Shepherd, Cody, she would not be able to live alone. He kept her company and protected her. He saved her life twice. He was a famous hero in the village. The Mayor and Marcus the Police Chief gave a ceremony in Cody’s honor and gave him a medal.

A serial killer broke in the house one night and would have added Aisling to his victims if Cody had not attacked the man and kept him terrified on the floor with teeth inches from the man’s throat till the police got there.

The second time Cody saved her was in the nook by the River Full of Tears. Aisling was laying on a blanket crying her heart out from her lost loves. When she got up and headed towards the river wanting to die, Cody ran in front of her. He jumped up and with front paws on her shoulders knocked her down. He lay his front paws and head on her chest till she stopped crying and began playfully wrestling with him.

Today the shop was closed and Aisling sat with Cody in the nook by the River Full of Tears, past sorrows and pain temporarily in a quiet place as she worked on a new bracelet design. It was so peaceful till Cody stood up and growled at someone coming down the path towards them. Then they both relaxed when they saw it was Marcus.

“Hello, Aisling. Cody,” he greeted Cody with ear scratches and a hug. “I thought I would find you here.”

“Hello, Marcus! So good to see you.” He was still in uniform. “Is something wrong? Has my shop been broken into?”

“Oh, no. All is fine,” he hesitated, trying to focus on Cody. “Uhm … Aisling … well, we have known each other since grade school, and I … uhm,”

“What is it, Marcus, something bothering you?” He looked over at her. “Well, yes. You are. Well, I mean … would you like to have dinner with me tonight? I … have had a crush on you since second grade and we’re both alone now.  I was wondering … I think it is time …”

She stood up. “I would love to have dinner with you, Marcus.”

Author’s Note

When I started this story I had completely different thoughts on the story line. I just kept typing and the result was not what I originally felt. I was going to trash it and wait a few days then start over. Then I thought, no – I will publish it and get some critiques.

So, this is a test for you, dear reader, and for me. We all need some practice on giving and receiving critiques in a supportive way. So, give it a go and please critique my story. Thank you.

*** Update: John Hansen critiqued this story and gave me some very good suggestions which I followed. I am now very pleased with the story and am at peace with it. Thank you, John.


© 2017 Phyllis Doyle Burns

Phyllis Doyle Burns
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Phyllis Doyle Burns

I am an author on TCE and write mainly in poetry and short stories. I have always liked to write. It is important to me that writing comes from my heart and soul. When writing poetry, if I do not feel a spiritual connection to what I am writing on, I will discard it and go on to something I can connect with on a spiritual level. I live in the moment, I write from the past or beyond the veil. When writing fiction I go with whatever inspires me at the moment - it could be funny, sorrowful, romantic or sometimes done with the use of colloquial language from mountain folk or other cultural regions. I began writing content online in 2007, starting with BellaOnline - A Voice For Women, where I was the Native American Editor, Folklore & Mythology Editor, and the Appalachian Editor. I also wrote articles for The Examiner, Daily Two Cents, and Yahoo. I am currently an author on HubPages. Most of what I write takes a lot of research and I love it. Even if it is a fictional story, I will research for accuracy in whatever it takes to make my characters, their era, their location, etc. become realistic to the reader. I hope you enjoy my works. Thank you for visiting.

11 thoughts on “River Full of Tears

  • July 20, 2017 at 5:47 PM

    This is a tear-jerker, and very emotional. The dog is so sweet, and wonderful! I can feel Aisling’s pain as if it were my own. The ending is encouraging and there flickers a flame of hope for what she might have thought would never happen, again. Very descriptive and passionate!


  • July 20, 2017 at 5:49 PM

    Phyllis, most of this story is about the history of the river and Aisling’s past, failed relationships, the times Cody saved her etc. This is fine as a short story, but not ‘flash fiction.’ With flash fiction you have to delete all the unnecessary backstory, and in-depth descriptions and leave the story short and snappy..just concentrate on the action, usually here and now, and aim for a sudden surprise ending.
    Marcus the police chief had really not been in the story at all and suddenly appears at the end asking her to have dinner with him, this was a surprise but it just seemed like a sudden add-on, because the readers weren’t introduced to him in any way. If you change this to “short story” I would develop that a little further mentioning earlier in the story something of when they were kids together etc?
    But, as I say, a short story is the way to go here, not flash fiction. Then it will be fine.

  • July 20, 2017 at 9:37 PM

    I love your stories and believe that is where you gift lies, as you are meticulous with plots and characterizations that give the reader characters to care about. Very much enjoyed as always. Cheers!

    • July 20, 2017 at 10:10 PM

      Thank you, Tony. I do feel storytelling is what gives me better way of expressing and pleasure in my writing. Thanks again for your kind words.

  • July 21, 2017 at 6:06 AM

    I am glad my comments were helpful, Phyllis. I reread it and think it is much better with the changes you made. Well done.

  • July 21, 2017 at 6:56 AM

    We are all here to help one another and constructive critique is always welcome at my door. Whether it be a typo error or a phrase or line out of place. John gave you a helping hand and a magnificent correction you’ve made here. You are truly a gifted story teller Phyllis and I agree with Tony on that. But your poetry is also compelling and equally expressive, but yes, you are by far a story teller. You design as an architect does, plotting each line. I love your work, keep giving us more.

    • July 21, 2017 at 8:04 AM

      Oh, Vincent, thank you for your very kind words. My father left me a legacy of story telling and it is a blessed gift for me. Some of the stories he could make up on the spot would have you enthralled. I try to write them down once in awhile and I enjoy that, but Dad never had time for writing. He sat with us kids in the evenings and not just tell stories, but act them out. He was quite a character, a real cowboy from Montana. Love him dearly and still miss him after many years. Thanks again, Vincent.

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