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Changing Directions: A Short Story

I have always been drawn to the ocean and enjoy studying about ships and sailboats as well as the different places a boat can take you.



Raha Harper was born in 1957 in a small town on the banks of the Snake River in Idaho. He was the first of three children to Joe and Reba Harper. Joe was from South Bend, Indiana and had played football for the University of Notre Dame. After college, he was on his way to Oregon to try out for a semi-pro football team when he stopped at a Diner in Pocatello, Idaho for a bite to eat. It was there that he met a pretty Native American waitress of the Nez Perce tribe. It was love at first site for the two and they were married about 3 months later. Joe took a job as a fishing guide on the Snake River where the salmon are plentiful and the fly fishing is great. This didn't even seem like work to Joe. After all, he had learned to fly fish when he was only 7 years old. Reba kept her job as a waitress at the Diner and their first of three children came shortly after. They named him Roger, but everyone would later call him Raha.

Joe and Reba's second child was a girl whom they named Cassidy. Raha and Cassidy became very close as they grew up. As they grew older they were almost inseparable. When Joe taught Raha to fly fish, Raha quickly taught Cassidy. The two spent many hours fishing and talking about the things that kids talk about. The last of the three children was Randy. It was Randy who was responsible for Raha's name being changed. Raha's real name was Roger, but when Randy first began to talk, he had a hard time saying Roger. Every time he tried it always came out as Raha and the name stuck. For the rest of his life Roger was affectionately known as Raha to the Harper family. Not only that, but anyone who new him also called him Raha, so he eventually began to introduce himself by that name. Raha loved Randy, but with Cassidy it was different. There was a special bond between the two of them. He felt it was his job to take care of her.

One cool May morning Raha and Cassidy went with their dad on one of his guided fishing trips. It was Cassidy's birthday so this was a special day. She was 14 years old. As always, Joe was busy instructing his clients on the art of fly fishing when Raha and Cassidy moved down stream to fish away from their dad's clients. Cassidy, wading ahead of Raha, stepped into a hole between rocks and lost her balance. She fell into the rushing water and began to be carried away. Initially Raha began to laugh. Cassidy always seemed to fall when they fished so this seemed to be just another funny occasion to him. However, the water was really swift that day because of the spring runoff from melting snow. By the time Raha realized that this time was different it was to late. Cassidy was being swept away. Even though the water was shallow where Cassidy had fallen she was quickly being swept toward deeper water. Raha ran as fast as any 15 year old could possibly run but he could not catch her. The current was just too fast. Still he ran.

Cassidy was a really good swimmer, but the weight of the wet cloths and boots was more than she could handle. She went under and fought back to the surface and then under again. She surfaced again a little farther down stream but quickly went under again. Raha never saw her come back up. No one did. Cassidy's body was found three days later about seven miles down stream. No one will ever know how long she struggled to stay alive. She might have died quickly. Then again, she might have struggled for several miles. All Raha knew was that it was his fault.

Snake River

Snake River

10 Years Later

"Raha help me! Please help me," he heard the voice say. Raha set straight up in the bed. Cold sweat ran down his body. He had the same dream almost every night. The same dream for the last ten years. He lay back down and asked the same question he had asked himself since the day Cassidy had died; "why couldn't I save her?" Still, there was no answer. He drifted back to sleep.

Raha"s life had changed dramatically the day Cassidy died. His parents became very quite. Reba would sit for hours and just stare into space. Joe ended up finding another job because he couldn't go to the river every day anymore. It just brought back to many bad memories. Two years after Cassidy's death Reba took a bottle of sleeping pills and never woke up again. After her funeral, Joe walked out the door and said, "going to get a pack of cigarettes." He never came home and Raha and Randy never heard from him again. It fell on Raha to take care of Randy. He was 18 now and Randy was 14. There were no relatives to lean on for help. Raha got a job at a grocery store bagging groceries and sweeping floors. He hated the job but it was all he could find in a small town. Life rocked on for four more years. When Randy finished high school he decided to join the army and he was shipped to California for basic training. He stayed in touch with Raha for a while, but all at once he to just drifted away. Raha was alone now. Most days he would go to work at a job he hated, come home to a refrigerator with no food but plenty of beer, and just sit on the porch and listen for Cassidy's screams for help again.

Sometimes he would go back to the river and talk to Cassidy. He would tell her how sorry he was for not being able to save her. He could shut his eyes and still see her being swept away by the river. And then he would cry. He would ask God why this happened to him and to Cassidy. One day at the river he did something he had never done before. He knelt down and prayed for forgiveness. He wasn't sure if he was asking God or if he was asking Cassidy. All he knew was that something had to change.

Asking for forgiveness.

Asking for forgiveness.

This is the end of part 1. Please be looking for part 2 next week.

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