I looked around at my surroundings and did not recognize anything. Everything was beautiful, bright and colorful. The stone bridge I was standing on seemed to be very old. The river flowing beneath the sturdy bridge was shallow and so clear you could see the different size rocks and patches of grass on the bottom. The sun shining through the water made everything sparkle and gently sway back and forth. Butterflies of every color under the sun were fluttering above the ground. They occasionally landed on the ferns, wildflowers and grass which covered the gentle slope of the banks. I could see large oak trees with strands of Spanish moss dripping from their twisted limbs with a sprinkle of magnolia trees and their huge white blossom's and dark green leaves. The thick growth of bushes under the trees allowed me to view a few feet into the dark woods. I could hear different birds chirping in the trees and their sounds mingled with the constant gurgle of the slow moving river. The landscape was touched by the afternoon sun. A gentle breeze allowed the sunlight to filter through the trees enhancing the colors and deepening the shadows. The light created a ribbon of sparkles dancing on the river with a bluish mist rising from the water only in certain area's. Standing on the bridge with my hands firmly holding to the rustic, wooden rails, I wondered if this was a dream and I a very small part in it.
Suddenly my being at one with nature was interrupted when a carriage being pulled by two magnificent white horses came around a curve a few hundred feet from the bridge. A cloud of red dust from the dry, parched road followed the carriage as the horses approached the bridge. I pressed my trembling body close to the rail in fear I may be trampled by the team of horses. The carriage abruptly stopped two feet from me. The door of the carriage hastily opened and a lady I had never seen before leaned forward.
"Charles! You just git yourself in here. You can ride home with me instead of walking. What in the world are you doing down here on the bridge? We must not keep Papa waiting. He wants to see us all in the library not a minute past four."
I paused for a second with my mind desperately trying to understand what was happening. My brain cells felt as if they were being fused together and I could not comprehend my present situation. The only data my brain could extract was my name, Charles Vanderpool. Everything else registered a blank.
I slowly climbed up into the carriage and sat next to this strange but beautiful woman. She was wearing an emerald green, satin dress with a large hat partially covering her long, dark hair. I knew the fashion of the dress, hat and carriage would date back to the mid 1800's. This was the first time I noticed what I was wearing. I had on a suit of clothes from the same era. The driver mumbled something to the horses and the carriage hastily departed. We crossed the stone bridge and made our way down the narrow country road.
I suddenly spoke, "I felt like taking a walk to the river. I did not realize how late it is."
"That's al right dear, you know how nervous I am when your Papa demands an audience. We will be there in plenty of time. Are you al right? You look a little pale."
"I am fine dear. I may have gotten more sun than I should have."
The feeling I was experiencing felt strange yet I had this inner voice telling me this is where I belong and this was truly home. I tried very hard to remember details of my life prior to finding myself standing on the old, stone bridge inhaling the beauty which surrounded me.
I heard myself yell in a loud voice, "Driver, stop the carriage!"
When the carriage came to a halt, I hurriedly jumped out. What seemed like an eternity but in reality was only a fragment of a second, I knew my life in the future had been filled with unbearable torment and pain. In a flash, a giant wave had washed over me drenching me with this horrible feeling of hopelessness and despair. When the wave had receded back to its origin, a sense of peace and well being like I had never experienced in my life completely engulfed me. I felt warm and safe and I knew I never wanted to leave this paradise.
I reclaimed my seat in the carriage and saw the worried look in her beautiful, green eyes. I took her small dainty, gloved hands and held them in mine.
"Don't look so worried Katherine dear, I just needed a breath of this clean, fresh air. Isn't life just grand and the world is full of beauty and wonder today."
Katherine smiled, "Charles, you never cease to amaze me. Our life is everything you said and more. You know what else? We are almost home."
The carriage pulled into the lane, lined on each side with giant oak trees, which led up to the Vanderpool home. I knew everything! Katherine and I are husband and wife and very much in love. We have two, beautiful children and live with my father John Vanderpool. My mother had died a few years ago. Our home was only a few miles from Beaufort in the great state of South Carolina. I work for my father in his shipping business. Everything became very clear to me and I was extremely happy.
I felt this tremendous jolt penetrate my chest. I slowly opened my eyes as air came into my lungs. I saw people clad in white looking down at me. Bright lights were everywhere.
"We have him back again," The man stated loudly.
I tried to talk but no words would materialize.
Only in my mind could I shout, "I don't want to be here! I want to return to Katherine and my family!"
I could feel the heat from the bright hospital lights on my naked body. A dark wave of sorrow began to wash over my whole being filling me with more sadness than any human being should ever have to endure. I closed my eyes to all the pain. Darkness totally surrounded me.
Suddenly I felt very warm and opened my eyes. The pain and sadness were replaced with complete inner peace and calm. I knew I would be able to rejoin Katherine and my loving family soon.
I glanced downward at the medical team standing around my lifeless body. A doctor looked up at the hospital clock and stated, "Record the time of death for Charles Vanderpool age 33 at 4 p.m. Saturday, April the 18th, 2000."
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