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It was going to happen tonight.

Still water slipped past the kayak, enveloping me, disappearing behind. My arms moved rhythmically as I paddled harder, faster, deeper into the river. There was nothing out here. Just me and the water and the paddles. Just an endless display of nothingness that I could lose myself in. I could feel it, heavy in the air and the sky and the setting sun.
Things were going to change tonight.
I backtracked eventually, drifting wherever my arms decided to take me. It was calling. There was something I needed to see. The images were thick in my head, the person I used to be. What used to be important. Suddenly I was eight years old again.
I let the kayak cruise into the shore. It was not the shore of my home. It was somewhere else. Another place I used to know. I climbed out onto the sand that quickly became damp grass and dirt. I moved not knowing where I was going. I let my legs carry me, let my mind take over and walked on and on. Dry leaves crinkled under bare feet. Sharp, thin branches whipped at sun-kissed arms and legs.
I stopped. I closed my eyes, soaking in the trees, the leaves, the lush forest, the nothingness around me. I clenched one fist, wondering. I inhaled deeply, tasting salty, light breeze. This was it. This was what I wanted to find before it happened. The feeling weighed heavily on me. It resided deep in my chest and throat. It was there. It came crashing down.
The turning of the tide
The whistling of an osprey.
The ending of things.
I opened my eyes, and I was very acutely aware of everything. My kayak, way down on the shore. The atmosphere slowly darkening. My trespassing on private property. And I was 15 again.
But it was here I needed to come, just one more time, before things were different. It was here I needed to breathe in and inhale and remember. Just one more time. I had to say goodbye.
It was going to happen tonight.
I found my way back and pushed the kayak out into the water, away from the past. I paddled, this time slower, softer, almost in a straight line towards my home. I could feel it, deep and dreadful, yet also liberating. The unraveling of threads. Maybe I would come here again, next summer, and maybe more than once. But it would be different, of course. Everything would be different then. It was possible I would never see this place again. It burned me. It cut me deep.
It was going to happen tonight.





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