Journey: a gradual passing from one state to another.
Traveling through time. Time passing by. People come and go. Places come and go. Events happen, then time stops.
Something is seen or heard. A touch is felt or something changes. But time stops. It stands still for a second, a minute, an hour, a day. It stops and everything is clear.
Time stopped for me, one day, a time long past now. The images, the sounds, the touch, the change are clear in my mind yet today. I see, I remember, when my journey was given meaning, when light seemed to shine down upon me for the first time.
I was fifteen turning sixteen. A week off from the big day. I was dreading what would come. I knew there would be no party, no gifts, no smiles, no birthday wishes. No one cared so neither did I. My life was a hollow sphere, the same things appeared over and over again with no meaning but pain.
I had made my choice. The one to end it all. My end was set and there was no turning around. I wouldn’t go through one more empty day. Things just passing me by, things only causing hurt.
It was noon, my favorite time of day. I was standing in the seclusion of the woods. The tree I cried beneath was there, beckoning me forward. Ready to listen like nobody else would.
I stood there, my face blank, ready to see my day forever end.
I sat, counting the seconds tick by.
I reached into my pocket, finding my key. My key to freedom, my key to relief.
Then I saw.
I looked up and saw him.
A kind face, radiant in the sunlight. Blushed cheeks and damp hair. Hair bright blonde, reflecting the light of the noon sun that I loved so much. Skin was sunkissed and glistening. Endless blue eyes looked at me, assessing the scene. Seeing my vulnerability and seeing through me.
I saw and time stopped.
I dropped the knife. The silver key that once looked so good burned in my hand. I looked down in shame, fearful for what he would say. I had been a shadow, a musing of life for so long. I didn’t want to know what he saw.
“Its Elizabeth right?” his voice was light and sweet. The type that could be listened to for hours and never grow old.
I meekly shook my head, afraid to move. I heard the thud of something being dropped, of his pack hitting the ground at his feet. I heard cautious footsteps approach. The grass easily gave way beneath the weight. A slight gust of air washed past me as he sat beside me. I felt his warmth radiate from his skin, he sat so close.
“This is a nice spot.”
I shook my head. My mind was unable to complete words.
“I’ve never hiked this way before. I’m Parker by the way, if you didn’t already know.”
We sat in silence. My shame and fear ever growing. I felt a dampness run down my cheeks, watched drops of water fall to the ground. I had begun crying without the realization that I had.
“Are you okay?” concern filled his voice, a tone that had never been directed towards me before.
“No,” I barely uttered the word.
I was stunned; I sat in silence for a moment wondering if I had heard correctly, he had asked me why.
The fog cleared from my mind and the words started pouring out. They slipped through my lips with ease. And he listened. The sun moved across the sky, light started to dim. The sky turned pink and orange. And I stopped. The words stopped.
Shyness overcame me. I had never been so bold, never told someone all that ailed me. No one knew and here I was telling all to a practical stranger, one who only knew my name.
“I’m glad I came this way today,” I heard his tone slightly lighten from what it had been before and I looked up.
He was smiling and looking back at me.
“If I hadn’t you wouldn’t be here anymore and I never would have gotten to know who you are past your name.”
I was incredulous; the kindness I had always dreamed of had come. Parker stood. His hair and skin were dry now. He looked perfect in the dimming light.
“Do you want me to walk you home?” He offered a hand to me.