The water’s edge

Having been led down a meandering path to the water’s edge one spring morning by kindly strangers, with promises of stories and wisdom beyond the spangled horizon, his curiosity could barely spare him. All he needed, he was told, were simple tools, freely foraged for those with eager eyes, and a thirst to know more and explore. The inlets would thread their way through islets and mangroves, some upon reedy banks where there was no way through the tangled weeds, some to lagoons where rest could be taken, some to seas wriggled with life and surprise. He set off, guided by those who warmed to his venture, urged further into the delta by those spinning out of view.

After some time, nourished by his trek, shaking off droplets of doubt as he wound his way, he called to those on the farther banks from where his tale had begun as he had once been called to. While some waved and some wished him well, many seemed doubtful as to the worth that his trail might bring. They preferred instead to cut wood, to huddle amongst the thornbushes, by anaemic fires to tell the same tales ever told until their familiarity brought a certainty that would let them sleep.

The boy’s concern grew to frustration, and then to fear that perhaps he himself had been led a lie. But his reflection in the clear ponds told him otherwise, he saw in his own eyes a zeal not born of monotony. Yet he was troubled in his rest, and sketched patterns between the stars of how he would bring others from the safety of their shore.

One morning, from the vantage point of a small knoll on which he had climbed to watch the sunrise, he could see the vast expanse before him – everything he had been promised, through kaleidoscopic eyes. He could see the world being woven together before him like a pool full of playful eels, changing shapes and patterns, their oily skin deflecting the prismatic light. He understood that his part was to weave and untangle, to speak and to listen, to learn and to unlearn, to spur and be spurred. There was no beginning, and no end, it just was.

As he turned to a near bank he could see the dim flames amidst the twisted branches, and wondered at those with whom he had once spoken, yet who preferred to remain.

And then as he turned away, they slipped from his mind as they had from his view. His heart beat steady, and his concern at last was gone. With all there was to discover and forget ahead of him he no longer cared.

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