I make my way onto the beach, gasping as the sand rubs its way into the soles of my feet and the burns there. I mainly feel relief, relief that the pain is over, relief that there is no cliff in sight, relief that I am here. Wherever “here” is.
I don’t get very far before the throbbing of my feet forces me to sit. I hobble over to a log, still damp from the water, and nearly crash into it as I roughly sit down. I’ve only come a few feet onto the beach, but find I already need a rest. It will take some time for my body to do what it could before this. If I’m completely honest, I know it will take some time before my mind forgets the pain enough to plan without fear of it. I wonder which will heal first – my body or my mind?
I spend a moment just sitting, catching my breath and looking around. The bright sand is finely ground and would feel soft if my feet weren’t red, inflamed and blistered. Tall pines encircle the beach, their limbs swaying slightly to create a soft, soothing rustle. I can see into the darkness beneath the trees and long to get there for a rest, out of the sun, away from the water that brought me here. The more distance I can put between myself and what just happened, the better.
But the water catches my eye. From here, it looks so soothing, so inviting: not at all like the source of the pain I underwent so recently. It laps gently against the shore, bringing with it things that were once elsewhere. I wonder how much a shore changes over time. If left undisturbed, how long would a shell remain on the beach? Does the water drop it there, only to drag it back out again later? This is an intriguing line of thought until I remember that the water dropped me here. I’d rather not contemplate returning just now.
Motivated by the coolness that awaits me under the trees, I force myself up from the log and limp towards them. Pausing twice to catch my breath, I eventually make it there and am pleased to find the shade holds a carpet of pine needles and a breeze that licks my face.
If the beach is a place holding new treasures as often as the tides ebb and flow, this wooded glen feels quiet with long held prizes not easily offered up. It doesn’t feel as showy as the beach, but is appealing in its quiet confidence. The forest knows what it is and what its purpose is, while the beach changes and morphs, avoiding rest at all costs. It’s odd, now that I think about it, that the beach is such a restful place for me. It’s constantly in motion, while I love peace and quiet. I wonder if my enjoyment of the near-silent woods will increase as I mature and know who I am. Do I like the beach because I change and morph as constantly as it does?
Shuffling carefully along, I stop to rest against a tree trunk. As my eyes adjust to the dim light, I see a hut a few meters in.