Matthew, returning to his pacing, considered the news Mary shared. He knew he’d seen Sarah in the puddle that day. It wasn’t the heat or his mind playing tricks on him. He knew Sarah wanted him to be with her, wherever she was. It was troublesome that Sarah involved Mary. This was a private matter, between the two of them. He was the one who held her as she died. He promised they’d be together again one day.Pacing was getting him nowhere. Matthew decided to walk to the north pasture to check on the cows, that maybe a walk with some purpose would help him decide what to do. His own horse, forgotten by his owner but not forgetting his training, followed the pensive man.The cows dotted the north pasture and its gentle slope, all standing up and grazing as usual. Matthew considered their postures. None looked like they had lain down all day. He turned his face to the sky. No clouds, hardly a breath of wind. There was no reason to expect rain any time soon, and since they were here so late in the day it was unlikely they would migrate to the stream on the western end of the farm. Matthew headed to the water troughs stationed here for days like this to see how much water they held from the rain a few days ago.From a few feet away he could tell they were not full. He walked right up to the edge of one and peered down in it. His reflection stared back at him, the surface of the water was still and only about a hand’s-breadth from the top. Good. That meant it hadn’t evaporated too much, the cows would have plenty for today, and longer.Matthew continued to stare at his reflection, remembering his last vision of Sarah, and wondered if she would find him here. As if the thought called her, a slight breeze rippled the surface for a few moments, clearing away the dust particles. When it was still again he saw Sarah looking back at him with her beautiful and happy smile.“Sarah! You found me again! ““Yes, my love. I’m here, waiting for you.” The whisper of her voice seemed to float around his ears, disconnected from the image but drawing him toward it. “I can’t wait to be with you again. Won’t you come to me?”“How, Sarah? Where are you?”“I’m here. Just come closer. Climb in and you’ll be able to reach me.”Matthew leaned over and rested his hands on the worn edge of the trough. He reached a hand down into the water but felt nothing. Sarah’s face did not disappear, but her eyes looked playfully at him and encouraged him to continue. He did as she beckoned, raising one leg at a time and stepping in. He stood for a moment, unsure how this was helping. He looked toward Sarah’s image once again, which began laughing. The sound swirled around him, traveling out from the water and then encircling him.“The whole way, my love. You must come to me…”Matthew cautiously lowered himself into the cool water, eventually lying down as he would in one of those fancy copper bathtubs the hotel in town uses. He let the water cover his face, closing his eyes and holding his breath as he went under. He heard Sarah laugh at him again, undiluted by the water swimming in his ears. “It’s alright to open your eyes.” When he did, he found himself standing near the edge of the wood, just a few feet from where Sarah sat on the grass.“There! I knew you could do it! I’m so sorry you could only find me here. I can’t seem to be anywhere else. Oh, Matthew, I’ve been so lonely! Won’t you come to me, put your arms around me?”
Without hesitation Matthew moved toward her, moving more quickly than he thought possible. He took her up in his arms, those arms which had been empty too long. He pulled her close and nestled his nose in her hair, in her neck, on her shoulder, anywhere he could reach. His hands squeezed her sides and then slid up and down, remembering her shape and reveling in the ability to touch her again.“I never wanted to be away from you, Sarah. You can’t imagine how hard it’s been.”Embracing him with as much strength and fervor, Sarah again whispered, “You can stay now, stay here with me. Will you?”“I’ll never leave. I’ll never let go.” They relaxed the embrace just enough so their faces could meet. They kissed as if it was the first time, gentle, learning the shapes of each other’s lips, the flavor of each other’s skin.Suddenly, Matthew felt the need to stop and breathe. But, the kiss… this kiss never needed to end.Matthew felt something nudge his shoulder, but he ignored it. He felt the something move him to the side an inch or two, forcing him to stop kissing Sarah and loosen his hands to regain his balance.Sarah began to whimper, to whine, “NO! Don’t go! I need you to stay…”But it was to late. The horse had pushed Matthew into the edge of the trough, causing the instinctual reaction for Matthew to throw his arms to his sides and sit up. He began to sputter through the water as he released the air screaming for escape. He found himself taking deep breaths while his horse nudged its nose against his cheek.Matthew swatted the animal away, cursing him. The spell was broken. Matthew looked at the water’s surface again, hoping to see Sarah still there. Nothing. He stood and thrashed his hands angrily around the bottom of the trough, trying to feel her there. Nothing. At once angry and despairing, he reclined in the trough again, again with the sensation he was in a bathtub, and he began to wish he had one in the cabin.Climbing out, Matthew peered into the other two troughs. Nothing. Nothing he could do now but wait for her again.