Standing Still

There you stand, eyes closed, completely still. A bright morning sun shines on you from behind. A hint of a breeze tickles the tips of your ears. The smell of pine needles and grass. The soft sound of water running over pebbles.

You open your eyes. Twigs crackle softly as you turn around, looking. There’s a small stream just a few steps ahead, stretching endlessly in either direction. The water sparkles in the sunlight. You have to cross the stream, reach the other side. It is narrow enough to just step over. You know you want to. But still you stand, watching the water flow past.

Your eyes blink. The blades of grass rustle as you walk forwards – they’re much longer now. The stream looks bigger, and further away. For some reason, that doesn’t seem strange at all – it’s almost as though you were expecting it. You walk towards it. You’re going to leap over to the other side, of course you are. You know you ought to. But still you stand, watching the water running by.

You give yourself a shake; how long have you been standing? It’s growing dark. The trees make creaking noises as the wind shakes their boughs. The dark water has the silent sound of a river. You can wade across, surely. You know you have to. But still you stand, watching the water surge ahead.

Now wait a second – where did the opposite bank go? There, far ahead in the distance – you can barely see it. The water’s moving much faster now. Little waves dash against the rocks. It smells saline. Perhaps you can row across. You know you need to. But still you stand, watching the water splash over stones.

The wind is whistling through your ears. You’re running towards that huge water body, many fathoms away. The far bank is but a memory. As you reach closer, you can’t remember if you ever learnt to swim. But that’s not important right now. The other side is. That opposite bank – it had it! That thing you’ve always wanted.

As you dive in, water filling your ears and your eyes, your weight taking you to its depths, the suffocating silence seems to ask: did you stand too long?

A bright morning sun shines on two children playing near a rivulet. Shading his eyes against the light, one of them looks towards the water and suddenly exclaims, “Oh look! Someone’s recently been on this side of the stream! Now that’s something that hasn’t happened in a very long time…”

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