The shoreline is void of people, waves gently swishing as they lap against the sand. There’s a loon nearby, it’s mournful call heralding the coming dusk. And in the pit of my stomach sits a stone, a heavy gnawing ache that nothing seems to satiate. A jog earlier in the day distracted me from it, but all too soon it reminded me of its presence. A brisk hike through the trees, following some barely used and lightly marked trail did little to distract me. A fantastic meal cooked over the open fire quelled my hunger, but not my restlessness, not my anxiety, not this growing dread that I could not shake.
It was coming for me again. Despite my best efforts, despite sticking to my treatment plan, despite following doctor’s orders, despite doing everything right… somehow, somewhere, I’d left a gap in my armor, a hole in my shield, and now… it had tracked me down again. But as always, it didn’t pounce and close in for the kill. No, this thing that is ‘just’ a medical condition, knows that a quick attack is far to easy. So it creeps slowly closer, staying out of sight but still clearly making its presence felt. A snapped twig when all else was silent. The grating scrape of metal against rock when there’s no one – human or otherwise – in sight. A sudden muffled silence when for a moment there’s not a sound. Birds and insects freeze and hold their breath – because somehow, they feel its presence too.
So I sit on the damp sand, watching my toes and the bits of sand still stuck to them. I listen to the gentle rhythm of the waves, as they swish and retreat. I can hear the loon calling as the sun creeps beneath the horizon. In the distance a sudden splash as a fish leaps for it’s meal before the stillness of the lake returns. Even the loon has ceased its mournful call. Across the lake I hear a burst of laughter – the only indication of humanity in my vicinity – and again the stillness returns. I gaze vacantly at my toes and the lapping waves, but without really seeing. My mind wanders, lulled by the gentle sound
A glimmer catches my eye. I look up and see the water, lit by the fading sun’s rays, has turned into liquid metal. Gold and platinum and shimmering silver dance and sparkle before my eyes.
The moment takes my breath away. And for a few glorious moments, the stone is gone too.