Take Me to the River

by Tom Swift

At this moment my little buddy and I are not on the morning walk, as we usually would be, but rather on the couch, huddled close. Specifically, he is at my hip, his butt near my pit. He is scared. We are in the midst of a rainstorm. The storm we were supposed to get yesterday, if I’m not mistaken, but which arrived while I was getting my reps in at the gym before sunrise. I keep my hands on B. I stroke him gently. He flaps his tongue and shakes. I talk to him. I remind him of the times, usually on Sunday afternoons, when, where we used to live, he and I would walk to the river. Would take us 10 or 12 minutes to go from our place in town to the the corner of the river over which there was a bike bridge. We would take a break on that bridge. Hang our feet over. At least proverbially. Not infrequently do I think of that spot during moments when I get scared. Leaning over the railing I would close my eyes on sunny days and imagine dumping my fears over the side and into that water. In my mind’s eye I would see the splash as this crate — my fears appeared to me as though boxed in a crate you would need a crowbar to open — hit the water. Sometimes I did this over and over. I tell my little buddy now that it’s OK to be scared. Because it is. The fear will pass. Just like the rain clouds now over our heads. I stroke his head, his back, and linger on his neck. His panting is slowing now. He would bark at some of the bikers. Usually, we sat there, quiet, close. Until it was time to move on, time to get off the bridge and go into the day and find things to sniff. His body is loosening. His head is lower. His panting is intermittent now. Fears fade. Touch helps. And we can go to the river whenever we need to.