HEALING ENCOUNTER

 

The Danube had already cleansed itself of the floating remnants of the war. The acrid odor of explosions and the smell of death had evaporated into the summer sky. A charred section of the bridge lay in the river. The undamaged section was deserted except for a young woman and the man walking behind her.

 

He soon caught up to her and asked, "Do you know where the ferry docks?"  

 

It wasn't her custom to talk to strangers. She glanced at him, and on an impulse she answered, "Yes, just follow me." Was his honest look or the sadness in his eyes that made her respond impulsively? She didn't know, but she walked with him to Margaret Island.  

 

They had missed the ferry. Except for the thudding of the boat's engine the island was quiet, deserted.

 

"The boat runs every two hours," she said. Then, shook the sand out of her sandals, and he followed her bare footprints to the meadow.

 

Her walk was light and rhythmic, her shapely silhouette shone through her light dress. He was stirred in body and soul by her unpretentious presence.

 

He laid his coat on the grass in the shade of trees. She sat quietly next to him. Two war-torn, lonely people.  They remained silent for a long time, enjoying the healing warmth of the sun and the quiet landscape. Then he turned toward her asking,

 

"Do you live alone?"

"Yes, and you?" she responded.

"I lost my family in the war" he answered.

"Oh...terrible! My husband was captured by the Russians." She turned her head, so that he won't notice her silent tears rolling down her cheeks.

 

The man perceived her pain and laid his hand on her shoulder.  "Please don't cry. He will be back," he said as he stroked her silky hair, and then kissed her gently. He wished he could free her from the memory of the war and all her sufferings. She felt his desire and closeness, and in a sudden burst of emotion she threw her arms around him.  As nature had cleansed itself from the injuries of war, it then began to heal the terrible wounds in their hearts.