Darkness wreathed the world that night as I swam. Moving with the current my porcelain body shot like an bleeding arrow through the pitch black waters. Trees whipped by like archaic giants,lumbering with heavy branches suspended above the water. Miles behind me my friends waited upon the shore for a return that would never happen, drinks in their hand and good cheer in their voices.
Tonight was one of those nights, the important ones, one of the ones you knew you had to let go. I wasn’t empty, as one might suppose, but full of a heady invigoration. The peace I felt within was its own kind of intoxicant, the river around me a constant companion bearing me forward into greater things. I knew not where I was headed, only that it was proper.
Time passed and I found myself floating upon my back, watching the stars through the sparse canopy. They were unfamiliar, lights seen from a planet not my own, but wherever you were in the cosmos the beauty was the same. Surpassing all longing for home the inevitable route I would be taking would bring me up into the fold of the star-cloth once again, until I drift along through so much nothing like I was tonight.
Sighing is difficult when you’re floating, but still, the emotion was the same. I turned over, splashing in the midnight clarity, and made my way to shore. I sat there in the sand for a while, feet still in the water, lost in wisps of memory.
My friends were probably scared by now, drunk and terrified I had drowned or been swept downstream. One might have had the wherewithal to make the trek back to the car to get his phone, only to find that he would have to go out to town to get service. I had until morning, then, to make my play. I took my feet out of the water, a steady trickle of glittering motes ceasing their trip further downstream.
Empathy, a curse. The whole part of the experience of this tiny life on this tiny planet I had tried to decline the most was the comfort of growing close to another. As anything else did, though, I was drawn to the company of others, even I wanted to fall asleep in someone elses arms here and there. The consequences were always the same, yet still I couldn’t always stop the urge. Right now I want to cry, but I don’t think I’m capable of it.
I order my thoughts and feelings into a petty little poem as I start to walk through the brush, heading undetermined. A gentle thing, it was, something soft and wistful, perhaps tinged with longing but arching towards the end in a happy farewell. A final night. Fire and drinks. Love. Vaguely I wished I had something to drink other than river water, dropping the threads of the poem entirely.
From what I knew of this land I was somewhere in the mountains, one of the main reasons I had decided upon this as the goal of our trip in the first place. I could see well enough in the dark, from a clearing I caught a glimpse of distant peaks and began to make my way there. One step at a time, often near silent, other times as loud as a raging boar. The human body was poorly suited to travelling through the woods, even more so without any sort of garment or protection. The night was cold, windy now, yet it only sent a thrill down my spine in the worst of ways.
Behind me, more glittering sparks of light breaking free from my skin. I wondered about the repercussions I would have on this stretch of forest. In a way that made me feel worse than those I would have on my friends. This was virgin wood, land living for the sake of itself, harming only to survive, growing as it could, dying where it must, power in the simple fact that it was still here. I wished it luck, more than I felt it would have, and continued on my way.
As the sun began to rise in the North I found myself at the base of the mountain, gazing up at its gargantuan peaks from one of the umpteen rolling hills that dared to challenge its majesty. It was snowing up there clouds rolling in from further down the mountain range. A shiver wracked my body at the thought of being up there, yet still I pressed on. This was always going to be the hardest part of the journey. I would not shy away. Not now. The climb was what it was, that being cold and arduous. The sun had long since passed its zenith by the time I judged myself high enough to stop, as close to the peak as I would get without climbing equipment.
That is where I sat, closed my eyes, and let the wind flow through me
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