Every morning he opened his ears to the cacophony of water stretching over stones and wind shifting aging leaves. The white bark and the small sounds took his mind to childish places. His creaking joints and peppery beard moved him downstream, sifting sands for a softer bed.
The man had a dirty blanket rolled up and a thin tent that didn't cover his feet, but not much else. He always meant to "collect" from willing neighbors, but he rarely met anyone neighborly. He rarely met anyone at all.
One afternoon, the man saw a young boy in a yellow cap on the other bank. The boy was fishing, whistling, and splashing too much to catch anything. The man stood, watching the boy. Moments passed.
Suddenly, the boy looked up. The man was gone.
photo by Elias and Theresa Carlson.