Summary: One brother says good-bye to another.
Rating – K, Word count – 1446
A Brother’s Treasure
A lone, dark figure gently made his way through dense Ponderosa pines along a well-trodden path; one which he could have walked with his eyes closed. The sun had just made its appearance over the tops of the sentinel pines, highlighting the expansive lake below. Though it had been years since the man had seen this view, he’d never forgotten it. On this day it seemed to welcome him home. Leaving the shelter of the pines he entered a grassy area and paused to let the view fill his senses.
“You know Hoss, I can’t believe I’m standing here on the grassy knoll overlooking Lake Tahoe. It’s been so long yet seems like yesterday. I never figured I’d be gone so long brother but, well, I’m home now. The color of the Nevada sky nearly overwhelms my mind. Deep azure, no, sapphire; that’s it. Actually, does it really matter what words I use? The sky is perfectly clear and the deepest blue I’ve ever seen. The lake reflects that color and many more, ranging from the emerald and jade evergreens which grow down to the shore line to the amethyst mountains surrounding it like the guardians they are. I’m not sure why I want to call all the colors by gemstone names. Guess it’s just the mood I’m in.”
Despite his mood, the beauty of the view was not lost on Adam. Slowly exploring the area it did his heart good to see so many vibrant colors. He needed that, especially today. As the cool air warmed and sunlight began to creep over the hillside, Adam leaned against a tall pine. Looking up into the outstretched branches he closed his eyes, breathed in the scent of pine and wildflowers, and listened. Sounds of scurrying critters, chirping birds and the lake waters lapping at the shore filled his mind.
“That sweet scent floating on the breeze takes me back a long way Hoss. It had been a rough night; Ma was in such pain but she kept smiling saying it was the best pain ever. I just couldn’t understand how pain could be a good thing, but if Ma said it, especially with her sweet smile, then I knew I had to believe it. Little did I know that her few hours of pain would bring my best friend into the world.
“As I sat in the wagon by Ma and Pa, and looked down into your blue eyes, I just knew you were going to be something special. Ma always told me that babies are the sign of a parent’s love. I have to laugh at that now, since having some of my own I know what that means but to a six year old mind, well, you can probably imagine what I thought of that.
“While Ma wanted to call you Erik, and Pa consented to consider Hoss for your name after I reminded him of what Uncle Gunnar said, I have to confess my proudest moment was a short time later when ‘Hoss’ began to stick. I always knew that was the best name for you, brother – ‘a big man with a right pleasant way, a good man with a friendly face.’ And that, big brother is exactly what you are.”
Adam pushed away from the tree and looked out over the lake and mountains. A sigh escaped followed by a crooked smile. He bent down to pick up a small branch and mindlessly began to strip the needles and twigs from it. His smile grew wider as he thought about the antics he and Hoss got involved in.
“I was just thinking about your discovery of the strongbox full of gold and the “little people” you’d seen. Oh Hoss, I’m sorry we didn’t take you seriously at first but really what else could we think? After I did that little dance across the room trying to break the tension a bit, I thought for a split second you were going to pound me. But you know what? I actually admired that you stuck to your guns on all of it. And what you said to the townsfolk about welcoming Timothy and his friends, well, I couldn’t have been more proud to call you my brother.
“That’s one thing Pa tried to teach all of us, to stick to our convictions. Sure it made for some rough times but I think you learned that lesson the best. You knew what was true in your heart and that’s all that mattered. You have the biggest heart of all of us Hoss and that’s what always made you so special. That’s pretty much what made our brotherly times so much fun too, like helping Hank Myers win the love of Miss Abigail, the three of us trying to play matador to Jigger Thurmond’s bull just to win Delores’ affections, and the mud fight that one Spring. Oh what good times we had!”
Adam lowered himself to his haunches and used the now smooth branch to trace indistinct shapes in the dirt. His thoughts shifting as the grains of dirt shifted around the stick.
“You and I always had an understanding about us, brother. Something Pa and Joe never understood. You know what I mean, the way we had of always knowing what the other was thinking, right? That sure came in handy when we got into scrapes or had to get Joe out of trouble, but it meant the most to me when I was going through some hard times. You seemed to know just when to give me space and when to share some of that great wisdom you had.
“When I lost Ross and Delphine Marquette your silent support meant so much to me. I thought I’d never get out of the dark hole of despair until you waded in and helped me see that Ross had died as a friend, not a stranger. Through the murky depths I saw your wisdom and realized what a treasure you were to me.
“Brother, I know this is long passed and we’ve forgiven each other, but it still haunts me that I nearly threw all that was meaningful to us away in my selfish way of trying to get you to see the truth about Regan Miller. I knew better and you were within your rights to make me pay for my misjudgment. I know that your attack on me hurt you just as much. But it was our bond that pulled us through that. I’m so thankful I didn’t lose you after that night.””
As an eagle drifted across the sky, riding the thermal columns of air, Adam rose and moved toward a cluster of Ponderosa pines. He settled down on a pile of soft pine needles and leaned against one of the sturdy pines. Drawing his knees up to his chest he rested his chin on them, drew in a deep breath, and let his eyes drift closed for a moment.
“I don’t think I’ve ever told you this directly, although I suspect you always knew, but I’ve always looked up to you. Oh sure, I had no choice after you grew passed me in height, but I think you know what I mean. I found I depended on your gentle wisdom way more than I realized. Even though I was the eldest, the first born, I always felt like you were my big brother. You were always there when I needed you the most, when I seemed to get lost to myself…..like now.”
After several moments of silence, Adam lifted his head and let his misty eyes focus on the granite stone in front of him. He wiped his damp face with one hand while tracing the letters on the smooth stone in front of him with the other. “I’m going to miss you Big Brother.” A shuddering sigh escaped. “Guess this is where you say that you won’t ever be too far away. All I have to do is look around.”
Adam lifted his eyes to scan the crystal blue water of the lake, the sunlight glinting off it like diamonds. He took a deep breath of the clean mountain air, releasing it slowly. Feeling a pressure on his shoulder and a gentle breeze brush by him, he heard an eagle cry and looked up. The eagle soared in circles disappearing into the sun’s rays. This brought a crooked smile and a flush of warmth to his aching heart. His golden eyes brightened as he scanned the area and thought about that. “Yeah brother, I’ll be seeing you around.”
Other Stories by this Author
- A Tribute to Pa (by AC1830)
- Takin’ a Break (by AC1830)
- A Brother’s Heartache (by AC1830)
- The Power of the Lake (by AC1830)
- Colors (by AC1830)