#1 – Brian Scofield
“Four score and seven years ago…”
Brian Scofield listened to Lincoln’s words. He’d heard them so many times before, starting when he was a child and his father took him to the Civil War reenactment at Gettysburg for the first time.
Brian loved history, even as a boy, beginning at the age of seven. He especially loved the Revolutionary period, devouring books about the colonies and the people involved with the causes and the fight for independence, the way other boys his age devoured ice cream and baseball statistics.
His other historical passion was the Civil War era.
He wasn’t interested in the wars; in fact he hated war with as much passion as he loved history. What he loved was the construction and re-construction of the United States. The building blocks that glued the disparate colonies together and then stitched them back together four score and seven years later.
Brian was one of the lucky people who got to turn their passion into a profession – Brian became a history professor and now sought to instill the love of history in his students in the same way Brian’s father had instilled it in him.
#2 – Pamela Bishop
Pamela Bishop felt that her destiny was awaiting her. She didn’t know what it was, but she felt it was there, just ahead of her.
She’d been born into money which allowed her the freedom to choose what she wanted to do and her parents, wisely, had not placed pressure on her to do anything in particular as long as she did something. They did not believe in spoiling their only child nor did they believe that she should simply dabble in this or that because she could afford to; they felt that that would simply make her a dilettante. They believed in the Christian work ethic and instilled it in their daughter.
To their pride and chagrin Pam had accomplished many things, but firmly settled on nothing.
After a liberal arts education at Yale she got a law degree at Georgetown University. Pam seemed to be settled into a successful law career. It appeared that way – briefly.
After two years as an extremely successful defense attorney she abruptly quit in favor of returning to school to study sociology.
Once again her degree and burgeoning career lasted about two years before she felt the need to move on.
Another degree, this one in anthropology, and then one in English literature left Pam with a wall of diplomas and no definitive career.
Unfortunately her personal life had fared no better than her professional life.
Bertram Bishop stared at the wall of diplomas and wondered when his daughter would find herself. At thirty-six, he thought, she should be settled in a career and, hopefully, at least a steady relationship or, preferably, a marriage. It was lovely that she still felt close enough to Barbara and him to invite them to dinner regularly, especially as she had added culinary school to her list of educational pursuits, but having her parents to dinner still left an empty place at the table.
Tonight he was thinking that had Pam followed in both of her parent’s footsteps and become a doctor she might have felt fulfilled, but Pam had never wanted medicine and now, having chased her personal rainbow, he wondered when she’d find the pot of gold and settle down.
#3 – Bridget Graves
Bridget Graves made one last lap around the lake. It wasn’t that she was such an ardent bicyclist, or even a casual bicyclist, but rather it was a tool to get her close enough to the shore to scour the banks for driftwood.
Why, you ask?
Simple. The lake had an abundance of trees of a wide variety of species all of which, for some reason unknown to anyone or anything other than, perhaps, the trees themselves, and they seemed to shed an inordinate number of branches every winter. It was almost as if the trees shed their leaves and then, in an almost cleansing act of self-pruning, shed their excess branches.
Every spring Bridget would gather whatever branches had come to the surface and into range of the shoreline. She repeated this in much the same way as the hunter-gatherers repeatedly went to gather meat and store it away. In Bridget’s case she stored her cache for later sorting based on size, shape and figuration.
By the end of each spring Bridget had accomplished two aspects that suited both sides well: a barn full of driftwood for herself and a clear shoreline for the swimmers and fishermen surrounding the lake. The locals living around and near the lake loved her and gathered whatever driftwood she either missed or any that collected in between her tours; each time she arrived at the lake she’d go to the designated corner of the parking area where the pile would be left, always with a note attached from one resident or another professing everything from a simple thanks to ardent love.
Bridget took the thanks as it was meant and laughed at the love letters.
Bridget was unlucky and lucky at the same time. Unlucky in that her parents had both died in a train derailment when she was nineteen and lucky in that she was able to inherit the small family farm where she had grown up and had all of her happy memories.
She was also lucky in that she, who had never liked actual farming, could afford to either let it go fallow or, as she decided to do, turn it into a tulip farm so she could enjoy looking at the crop. Of course she had again been lucky to meet a family who wanted to farm tulips, but couldn’t afford to and therefore an arrangement had been made to accommodate both sides to ideally suit each other’s needs and desires.
Bridget retained a comfortable cottage and a barn on the property and it was in this barn that she stored all of the driftwood gathered each spring. Through the fall and winter she sorted and shaped pieces into furniture and sculptures and in the summer sold the fruits of her labors in craft shows anywhere within a fifty mile radius.
As Bridget made her last lap she spotted one additional piece that she’d either missed or had floated to the shore while she’d been riding.
Once gathered and piled on the cart attached to her bicycle she sat on the bank, overlooking one of the loveliest vistas of the lake, to enjoy the beautiful spring day and read the latest note from the day’s pile.
This one was another love letter, but not the usual type to be pleasantly laughed at; there was something different about this one. Bridget read it three times before she took out her cell phone and dialed the number written at the end of the letter.