Canoe Dreams

fiction
The River and Bridge

“I want to canoe the river.” Gaige says one evening over dinner between bites of the butter chicken and rice he has prepared. The sauce has come from a jar, heated on the stove-top with some bits of stir fried breast-meat and poured onto their plates over a bed of white rice from the cooker.

“Through the city?” Scarlett replies without looking up from her phone. “That would be nice. I think there is a company that rents —“

“No.” He interrupts. Gaige chews and pauses, considering. “I think — I think I’d like to go a little further than that.” He says after another bite.

Scarlett looks up at him at last. “How far?”

Gaige scoops another forkful of creamy orange sauce into his mouth and shrugs. “As far as I can.” He swallows. “I mean, the head of the river is way up in the mountains, but I don’t think it gets real friendly for canoes until downstream a hundred kilometers or so. Then it gets wide and calm for the rest of the way. I think so anyhow —” He takes another mouthful. “— I haven’t really researched it yet.”

Scarlett’s fork is hanging limply in her hand and she is glaring at Gaige from across their small dining table.

Gaige continues. “I’d film it all, obviously. Preparation and planning the trip could be the first episode. Then each segment down the course of the river, maybe each city that I reach, could become a part of the story and—” He finally looks up at his girlfriend. “—what?” He exclaims as he recognizes the expression on her face.

“You know I support you, but —“ she sets her fork down at the side of her plate with a deliberate calm. “—it’s just that making videos of your runs or your recovery are one thing. This seems like a really big leap —“ she hesitates for a heartbeat or two before she adds “— for a blog post.”

He rolls his eyes as spits out the last bit. “I wish you’d stop calling it that — it’s not — you know what I’m working towards here. I’m not going to argue about this.” Gaige shrugs. “This is what I’ve been building towards. Bigger stories. More exciting adventures.”

“Gaige.” Scarlett’s voice is the definition of measured calm. “Why this? We don’t even own a canoe. Have you even paddled in a river before, ever?”

“Sure. Yeah. I’m pretty sure I did once — when I was a kid.” He leans into the idea with a spark of excitement. “But that’s the whole point. Preparation and planning.” He replies. “Like I told you, it’s episode one.”