Their words crashed through her mind as she ran down that familiar gravel road, wind and gravity propelling her towards her oasis. She could feel her body fighting against her. She stopped, wheezing, beneath the shady oak tree where she'd had her first kiss. Could that really only have been ten years ago? Time had become relative. Six months…
Still wheezing, but no longer able to endure the voices invading her memory, she continued down the hill as fast as her body would allow, slowing only as she rounded the corner. Made it! The air was laden with the sweet smell of cedar, and she greedily inhaled, allowing it to heal her imperfect lungs; if only for a moment.
Dusk was fast approaching. The drive had been long, but the endless expanse of asphalt had a numbing effect to it; the sheer rock faces looming high on either side were comforting, they shielded her from this harsh world. As hazy clouds began to slice across the valley, she lingered by the lilac bush, drinking in the tantalizing perfume of her childhood. Nostalgia scratched her throat raw.
Skirting the crumbling cypress dock, she ambled towards shore, transfixed by the slivers of fuchsia and crimson that had turned the polished surface of Lake Jordan into their personal dance floor. In the distance, she recognized the deep hoot of a male owl. The light was fading, but there was so much left she wanted to do.
Slipping her worn sandals off, she took a step in, relishing the feeling as the soft clay hugged her foot. She prayed it would feel like this; no pain, just a warm blanket enfolding her in its feathered fabric. Wading a little farther in, gentle crests from a distant motor boat began to lick the frayed ends of her cut-off denim, but were unable to break her reverie as she absently fingered the tatters of her favourite sweatshirt, desperately trying to reclaim the wonders of her childhood summers.
And although she had never been an emotional person; at that moment, as the last flecks of light melted into the glistening surface of the lake, she let it ravage her. She tasted the salt waterfall cascading over her sunken cheekbones. Silently shaking, she turned towards the shore and tread back across the cooling granules, savouring the tingling of her feet as the still-warm air hit wet clay.