It’s a little past midnight, dark and cool. A breeze wakes goosebumps on your skin. A trillion stars glitter the sky. There are so many that they could almost form a white blanket. They are not so bright, though–that is where the moon comes in. It’s full and giving off enough light to see your surroundings.
You are at the lake. It is silent and the water is like glass. Every once in a while, the breeze is strong enough to create a ripple over the surface. You are just laying on the dock, watching for shooting stars. On a clear night like this one, it is not that difficult. You almost cannot keep up with them. Your eyes dart around, counting them off, but you definitely miss some.
It smells like pine trees and fresh air, scents you never got in the smog of the city. There is the faint stench of fish, too, but the trees mask it pretty well. In your head, you add the smell of boat fuel and it throws you back to age five, when you spent every day jumping off the dock, tubing around the lake, and adventuring with the neighbors kids. You grew up on it, and you wish there was a Yankee candle that could recreate it.
You close your eyes to give them a break. The easy rocking of the dock is soothing, for once. It doesn’t make you feel sick or give you a headache like it usually does. Your breathing is deep and easy. It is cliche, but this is the most at peace you have every felt.
You are not thinking about books to read, shifts to work, conversations to have. You are not worrying about that rumor you heard about yourself or what that boy thinks of you. Your phone is back on dry land, and it doesn’t matter how many texts it has–or doesn’t have. Whoever might be trying to get a hold of you can wait…maybe for forever. Maybe you just won’t leave this spot. Maybe time will just stop right now and leave you be for all of eternity.
Cricket chirp in the trees along the water and a frog ribbits nearby. It does not quite bring you back to reality, but you do return to the present. You open your eyes, and the world is still quiet. It’s a little too quiet, though, so you dip your feet into the water. You expect it to be cold, but it’s not. It is actually very warm, and it feels much better than the breeze between your toes had. You slowly kick your feet back and forth to create a constant ripple on the lake. It goes out pretty far, but would never reach the other shore.
You wish you could jump in, clothes and all, but the Mama Bear in you says, “You should never swim alone. That would be just stupid.” So you settle for just your feet.
For a moment, you wonder if this would be better if someone was there to share this memory with you, but it is fleeting. Any other soul would ruin it. Another time, maybe, when you are ready to share this place with another. Someone who can squeeze your hand and share this moment with you in the calm quiet. Someone who can count the shooting stars you miss and makes the wishes you can’t.
But for now, it is just you. You and the water and the wind. The only things you need, really.
Your feet splash when you take them out of the water. You track little footprints over the wooden panels. You take a deep breath…and then another. The goosebumps prickle your skin again, and you close your eyes. Take one more breath.