Stone Soup

She’s been waiting for him.  Camped out on the porch, front door propped open so she can hear the Philco in the sitting room. It’s close to dusk and Helen Forrest is singing “The Man I Love.”

He pulls up, emerges from behind the wheel of a sapphire blue Nash Coupe, and waves-all smiles and plaid wool and stubbly chin.  Quite a contrast to the clean-shaven, double breasted flannel, laid-off despondency of a week ago. Her “Welcome home, honey!” hooks his heart as her arms encircle his waist.  “Catch any fish?”  His answer is muffled against her Coty-powdered cheek and tawny pin curls.

“As a matter of fact, I did.  This morning. Served with a couple of eggs, over easy, short stack and cup of coffee.  The buck and two bits Angler’s Special. ”  He winks. 

He looks younger than his 47 years. Four days by the water have done him a world of good. Softened the worry lines around his brown eyes, despite his misgivings about the extravagance of the trip. She insisted, though-the imminent need to penny-pinch a weak excuse for denying him.

“I brought you a present, Emma.”  He rummages around in the back seat clutter of tackle and dirty clothes, and hands her his split bamboo fishing rod.

“Gee, thanks, George,” she laughs.  “But I seem to recall giving you this for Christmas!”

“Oh woman of little faith,” he counters, rummaging some more, his fingers ferreting out a small brown-paper sack.  She peeks inside the bag, delighted to discover that her gift is a dozen or so colorful river rocks. 

“I’d pick ‘em up sometimes, when the fish weren’t biting.  You’re lucky I didn’t bring you a whole car load.”  He winks again.

She’ll never tire of seeing him this happy. 

“Haven’t you ever heard of stone soup?” she teases.  I’m told it’s good-with or without fish.”

She squeezes his hand, the memory still raw. 

How watching him cry almost killed her.

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