A Face in the Water

by Bob Hazlett

Deep furrows in his face and long straggly hair and beard tells his age and lifestyle. Vern is a gold prospector who roams the mountains with his donkey Sparky. Today he stared across a canyon at the gulley on the other side wondering if the rain might have washed away enough topsoil to expose some pay dirt.

“Is it worth making the long hike over to that side to find out?”, he asked Sparky.

Sparky replied, “Vern, you have to do the digging and I have to carry all your junk over there, but we both have to eat. Let’s do it. It’s not like we have an appointment for something important.”

Vern and Sparky talked often – close companions in a lonely life. Real or imaginary, who knows?

The long trek down the mountainside took a while. Sparky surefooted but Vern not so much, occasionally stumbling and sliding several feet down in the loose gravel. At the bottom, they paused to rest and refresh with a drink from the stream. Vern looked at the climb ahead to reach the spot he had observed.

“I don’t feel like climbing that wall,” he groaned.

“Well, you have to do something,” Sparky admonished.

“Let’s see what’s in the stream” Vern replied.

He pulled his pan out of his gear and started to pan the stream bottom. The water was clear and cold, and the gurgling sound was hypnotic. Soon Vern was off into dreamland, remembering his youth and the pretty girl who had been his wife. He could see her face in the water of the stream.

His eyes filled with tears as he repacked the pan on Sparky’s back.

“Let’s go,” he mumbled.

Together they began the long climb, like always, hoping that today they would hit the mother lode.

###

Prompt: age, talk, stare. Word Count: 298 words

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