It was almost peaceful. The way the water moved around her as if conscious of her presence, delicately gliding over her once curly hair, now straight and weightless under the surface.
She just laid there, motionless. Not feeling the cold, not feeling the sharp pricks of sticks and rocks as they were transported by the current down towards the open lake.
She thought about other times when she felt this calm, any other times when her anxieties and worries about what could possibly happen next would just disappear,
as if they were being washed away with each wave that moved over her.
She couldn’t think of any.
Each breeze that sailed through the tree tops sent with it hundreds of red, yellow and orange leaves,
with each one eventually settling down on the forest floor or finding it’s permanent resting place there upon the water. She thought she could lay there forever.
She would not move, she thought to herself, not for anyone. Then she remembered the one person who she would have moved for.
The one person who, out of everyone, would make this moment right here perfect.
It was almost peaceful. Almost.
She woke up as uncomfortable and abruptly as she had fallen asleep, in the damp cold of her once warm and welcoming bedroom.
She looked around and found no solace in the place she was supposed to call home. There was no one there to comfort her anyway.
Sighing as she climbed out of bed she tried not to remember her dream. Her almost perfect dream. She would not torture herself like that, not again.
But it was harder that she originally thought.
Tears filled her eyes as she aimlessly climbed into the first thing she felt in her wardrobe- a white cotton dress, but she didn’t care what she looked like.
She couldn’t stop the memory of the dream flooding back.
It had been 5 months since she had visited the lake, and still not a day went by where she wouldn’t try and forget the details of the tranquil waters, or the beauty of the autumn leaves,
or that one special person she so longed to see again…. But never could.
She was panicking now, she knew she had gone too deep and could feel the images starting to form in her mind, and she couldn’t stop them, but deep down she knew she wanted to see her face again,
even just from a distant memory.
She felt as though the memories she had tried so desperately to suppress were being thrown at her in slow motion, but every time she tried to hold onto a particularly good memory,
another was fast forwarded to the front, and eventually she would see the one she dreaded of all. The image of her mother dying.
“STOP!” she screamed, but it wasn’t something she could control, it wasn’t something anyone else could prevent, and one by one, she remembered the details of her mother.
The way she laughed, the way she held her when she was upset, and the way they spent so much time together on the lake.
So much perfect time.
Unable to take the pain any longer. She ran. Where she was running too she didn’t know, but she also didn’t care. She just wanted to out run the pain.
The pain of losing the one person she had left in the world. Without thinking she found herself on the familiar path up the forest, a path she had walked so many times before.
The realisation of where she was made her slow to a standstill and she held her breath.
“Can I do this?” She thought to herself. “Am I ready?”.
For half an hour she just stood, thinking, and before she even thought out her plan,
she began running once more and didn’t stop until she spotted that familiar opening in the trees that meant she had found what she had been looking for.
Pulling back the stiff branches of an old Oak tree, she closed her eyes and waited for the fresh smell of the water to fill her senses, and once it found her,
she opened her eyes and took in every detail of the hidden paradise.
She thought again of her dream, and how her feelings mimicked the stillness of her surroundings.
Without undressing, she walked into the lake, not even noticing that she hadn’t got any shoes on and her feet were scratched and dirty from her run through the forest.
The instant the first drop of water touched her bare legs, a wave of calmness washed over her, her emotions once again copying the movements of the water as it cascaded over her body.
She fell into it at once- the water and her once suppressed memories- but this time she took comfort in remembering her mother.
It was like she needed to revisit this place to keep the memory of her mother alive, and it allowed acceptance of the pain as part of her.
Her intentions of what she was going to do when she arrived had completely been eradicated from her mind, and for the first time since she lost her mother, she felt ever so slightly at peace,
as if the water covering her body was a blanket of hope in her now miserable life; a lifeline she so desperately needed.
As she laid in the water, allowing her body to feel weightless and free, she imagined a time where she would feel truly and completely at peace.
Her hair, now straight like in her dream, flowed over the shoulders, comforting her like a friendly hand in her time of need.
Though she couldn’t promise to herself she wouldn’t think about such dark thoughts again, for the first time in a long time she could imagine, if only slightly, a future,
and as much as she craved being with her mother again, she knew her mother would have wanted her to live.
She closed her eyes and allowed her breathing to slow down.
Straining her ears, she waited for the sounds of the forest to find her, craving to hear the songs of the birds so she could submerge herself fully into her little corner of heaven.
She did not have to wait long.
She grasped hopefully at the images of people telling her that time heals all wounds, praying that were right, though she knew that if they were it would be a while.
Allowing herself to remember the memories she and her mother shared, and revisiting their favourite place released some of the pain she had been carrying for a long time.
Her limbs, aching from the intense journey relaxed under the weightless body of the lake, and just like in her dream, she could no longer feel the cold.
It was peaceful.