Where The River Meets The Sea

Excellence Award in the 'Write Here Write Now 2017' competition

I stand in a position where the river meets the sea. From here, the view is perfect. But instead of looking out; I’m looking in. My back is to the ocean. The ghosts of broken waves lick my heels. The sky is indecisive today; half appears a miserable streak of grey, the other is stubbornly blue. Beyond the inlet, upon a grass hill, two children play. A boy and a girl. Siblings. Friends. Strangers. An observer is unable to decide. I cannot tell.

They lie on the lawn on their sides. Laughing uncontrollably as their bodies roll down the slope, limbs flying, landing in a bed of sand. They are unafraid. Unafraid to lose control and let the wind decide where they fall. The children do not notice. They do not notice the old man with a white beard reading a coloured print newspaper, who wears an irritated scowl in response to their squeals. They do not notice the young couple, hand in hand, navigating their way through the minefield of stripy umbrellas speared into the sand. The boy and the girl are elsewhere. Squinting in the sun. Tumbling and falling in a hazy, lit darkness. They inhale the distinctive perfumes of the grass; as the blades tickle their cheeks.

The hill is dotted yellow with daisies. A green canvas, freckled gold. The girl flutters from flower to flower like a tiny pink butterfly. Picking the weeds to create a crown. The boy kneels in the sand, searching for buried treasure. Digging like a dog. Until he stops. Shouting the girl's name and waving his arms, beckoning her to come closer. The girl lifts her head. For a moment the waters disappear and she is wearing my face. My face from a decade earlier. I wear the crown of yellow flowers and run to the boy who calls my name.

Time moves too quickly. It cannot be restrained. Now, I stand on the bridge which connects childhood to adulthood. An unexpected occurrence. I am knee deep in water that was once fresh. The salt invades the inlet. Watching the children play on the hill; I know, that they too will blink and wake in a different body. Suddenly aware of their surroundings. They will forget the feeling of being oblivious. They will forget the feeling of believing in impossible things. They will forget the grass hill and the day they rolled into the sand.

Maybe... If they’re lucky... The memory will endure in a photograph. Captured by the brain. But over time, the shiny, saturated image of yellow flowers will fade. This memory will lose its colour. The moment will be static. Unmoving and silent. The hour will turn grey. Like their hair.

I wade further into the waters. Perhaps I’m ready now. But it’s not my choice. With a final glance in the direction of the grass hill, I turn to face the ocean. Palms breaking the surface, body diving under. All I taste is salt.

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