The Conversation

A Three Creeks Story

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart" Deuteronomy 6:5

Enke Hansen crossed the street carefully, looking into the driving snow to see if any cars were coming down North Main. But the coast was clear. Stepping off the curb, Enke rolled up the collar of his coat to keep the wind off his neck. He hated it when his neck got cold as it reminded him of his patients... cold neck, cold hands, cold feet. Coming across the street, Enke went around to the side door to let himself in the office. You could hear the wind whistle around the corner and blow snow-mounds into all the small nooks and crannies of the office entry. No flowers now. Barren in their pots.

Standing sentry like, the dead blooms rattled as the wind swirled around them. The dead guarding the dead. But Enke was okay with that too. At least you could get a word in edgewise.

Enke remembered his school days, noise and confusion all the time. Clanging bells and slamming lockers. He could not wait to attend college. Peace and quiet, no body yelling at you as it used to be at Three Creeks High School:

"Go Indians"!!

Enke moved to his college with little or no sadness leaving behind few real friends that knew what he thought.

He had friends... at least in his imagination. He had so much to tell them. Like Larissa Jonas. Beautiful Larissa. She was Prom Queen in 11th grade year and Three Creeks Festival Maiden, the summer after HS graduation. Larissa was a nice girl, she used to smile at Enke in English and Latin. They sat close to each other as teachers grouped by skill level. Enke was smart, just silent. There was so much he could have told Larissa. Like how beautiful she was the night of Prom. Enke had attended because he was Junior Service Rep, but he didn't bring a date.

Nope, he was not going to miss the mentality of Three Creeks HS. His studies and his job at the college in Chillocothe kept him busy alright. With his few free weekends, Enke drove back to Three Creeks to see his Aunt Rose.

Rose had raised Enke after his mother and father were killed in a car accident when Enke was four. Rose had a big house and a bigger heart. She had taken custody of Enke right away. No sense putting him through foster care. At 40, Rose became a mother. She was dedicated and decisive. Enke grew up in her house, grounded in the All Saints Baptist Church and chicken and noodle dinners every Sunday noon.

Enke had never really known any life except the big, dusty house that seemed to have 10,000 rooms. Enke had explored each and every one. He played soldier, dragon slayer, king of the Tukas Empire... all the pretend games one can imagine in the reading and imagination of a library reader.

But Enke played alone. His shyness kept him from talking much and he relied on a nod yes or a nod no to express his greatest needs. Silent as the grave, was how Enke's eighth grade teacher described him. Silent as the grave. Miss Makin did not know how true that statement was. As Enke matured, he kept his own silent vigil. Never missing much, Enke saw, and heard much, but said little. But because he was so smart, book-smart, other students wanted to work with him. Enke always had a partner for group projects, particularly in the bio and chem classes where he excelled. Enke got the Pritzker Chemistry Prize the year of graduation, and could barely squeeze out a thank you to Principal Monroe.

Enke had no problem getting accepted to college. He was a natural in the sciences. He was good at memory and precise in detail. Enke could use his Latin skills too. The classification and order of Latin pleased him... regular and functional, just like the physics of the human body. It was so clean and so simple, if only people respected their bodies and took care of them. Enke should know. He saw it all... from those who lived in excess to those who barely lived at all.

All this passed through Enke's mind in a flash. But he had serious work to do. The news about beautiful Larissa was not good. She was still elegant and pale, with huge crystal blue eyes. Larissa had died in child-birth and left a young family to cope with out her. David, her husband, was a fire-fighter with the Three Creeks Fire Department. Larissa left behind three year old Adam and new born, Rachel.

Enke felt overwhelmed. He knew the sadness of losing a parent: the empty ache of loving arms, the sweet smile of happy parents that was missing. Enke remembered his loneliness and it made him shiver, there, even in the office.

Enke did not know how to comfort David. David's folks were both living in town and had come to help with the children. Larissa's mother, Claudia, was too overcome to be much assistance and there was no dad. So now it was up to Enke. He had to do justice to Larissa. She was there, his patient. Enke wanted everything to be perfect. He had asked David for a photo, a photo that you like. So it was time.

Enke worked late into the night. He took his time. Larissa deserved that and more. He finally got to tell her how much her smiles in English had made him feel special and included. Enke knew that Larissa was a real nice girl. She was genuine. Larissa had cared about Enke, not just used him for his knowledge.

Finishing just before 1:30 AM, Enke went to the outer scrub room to clean up. He was finished. Having worked for five hours on his patient, Enke had held the conversations with Larissa... all the stories, all the jokes, all the moments that he now could share with her. It was good. Enke really liked Larissa. She was kind, and such a good listener. But it was time to finish up, close up the office and go home. Tomorrow, he needed to be back in the office by 8 AM.

Dr. Briges, his adviser at college would have remarked that Enke had completed another excellent service. Skilled and passionate about his work, Enke had served his patient well. Enke closed the refrigeration unit. Turned out the lights. He rolled his collar up against the wind and snow, crossing North Main.

Going home, Enke whispered a soft goodbye to Larissa. At least , he had been able to tell her everything. Tell her all the moments that he had kept her in his heart. Dr. Briges, Enke's adviser at Chillocothe Mortuary College, would have been really pleased with Enke's work

By ME Hansburg

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