The snow has melted and inklings of spring has sprung. The boy stops, turning back to watch as the girl manages her way down the steep hill. She walks slowly and both deliberate but light footed. Her arms, bent with her elbows facing her hips, act as balancing poles. The boy’s hips turn slightly from side to side, his hands have no comfortable place to rest and his eyes mirror his hands as they dart to and fro: impatient, nervous.
It is not often that the boy is amongst so many natural things, and the first time he has walked by the river. The current is slow (almost still), the river is wide, the sycamores and elder trees reflect off the surface. The water looks nice but still very cold, cool drafts drift up to the two.
There are narrow paths that follow, sometimes parallel, sometimes out of sight, along the river.
The girl is thin and tall, she is somehow awkward in her height as she stoops down and walks with lunging steps though they remain gentle, light; as though she had grown so tall all too fast and has still no adjusted to the change. She is too thin for her bones, though she has always been slim, but she is tall now and her bones desire a fullness upon them; she refuses, she remembers her childhood- only two years ago; so she is unnatural and beautiful.
Her pace is constant. The boy walks with her a few steps then runs ahead and scampers up a tree. She continues steady and passes offering little attention to his daring leaps from branch to branch. He frowns and then jumps down and chases after her. As he passes he gives her light taps on her shoulders. He inhales deep and takes in her subtle perfume. From the sides of the path he finds some thin rocks, he moves closer to the banks’ edge and skips a handful across the water. She passes again. Again he follows after and again he takes the lead. He finds a bottle and throws it into the water to have a moving target.
“No, no!” she scolds him, shocked that he had thrown trash into the water. She accuses him further with disapproving eyes. He glances up from his stooped head and exaggerated frown. He only wants that she would like him, then he wouldn’t try so hard, if she would only like him. He goes to utter an apology, but she looks away.
He walks ahead as the path turns up a steep hill. A train track bed joins their path, so they will follow it. He remains quiet, she as well, though they walk closer. As night approaches the surrounding trees grow dark and tall. In the distance the sounds of weekend parties in a town grow then fade. They pass small farms and farm houses. The sky is clear and so the stars are bright. They come upon a low bridge, the river runs below.
Even on these odd footings they begin walking in step. And they are both tired so they stop and sit, legs dangling a few feet above the water. The woods make plenty of noises, filling the silence well enough, such that the first words the boy utters seem awkward, out of place. He talks to talk, even talks about talking. Words of little consequence, only there to perpetuate the breaking of his self esteem. As abruptly as he started speaking he stops, a vain effort to claim what little composure that might remain, and now the noises of the woods are all too reminiscent of silence. He makes another attempt, reciting a poem he had written years before; a witty haiku that, in his mind, seems worthy of pride:
“Through misty windows
Deer dance in the dying fields
It’s fucking awesome.”
He looks over, she is gazing away, to him aloof. He bottles despair the best he can. He bows his head as if to cry. She turns to him but he doesn’t see. She turns as he throws himself into the water.
“Boy!” She falls in after. The water is cold. She can even see her own breath. He comes up next to her holding the bottle he had thrown in earlier. She smiles. He shys his eyes away. He is lost in a dream.