Here is another “writing exercise” post. The story here is inspired by the picture below I took in Styrso island near Gothenburg in Sweden.
And I think I understand now why we need words. In my last post I spoke of how camera pictures are true and words often are not. Yet the camera captures what the camera person sees from what is actually present. Words, on the other hand, can contort a tale any way they like.
The first day I went to the lake, I was unprepared for its generosity. A childhood memory of waking up in the hills to the sound of slowly flowing water far below had recently surfaced and I wanted to hear that music again. So one night I slipped away from home and walked to the lake. It lay before me full and blue, its gentle bank inviting me to it. I sat down on the sand and heard the notes of the water as it splashed against the small stones near the land, their story filling up the air. It was a cloudy night, for it was the Monsoon season and the clouds threatened to burst, but I knew they wouldn’t. I couldn’t smell the rain yet.
“Feel my water,” he said. “I am sweet and fresh.”
“No, no,” I replied. “I don’t want to get wet. I only want to hear you. I like your stories. And I am going to sleep next to you. The breeze from you will make me sick if I get wet.”
“Just splash your face and get your feet wet,” he insisted.
I didn’t want to stop myself that day. It had been building for a while now, this sense of wanting to plunge in. So I put my feet in, one toe at a time. The water was warm and as more and more of my skin touched the water, my fears of getting wet became smaller, until my legs were soaked in the lake. I lazily moved my feet around in the water, watching as beams of light from the moon tried to penetrate the surface of the water. I lay back in the sand and stared at the sky, searching for something I hadn’t seen before. But I didn’t know how to recognize the stars or the planets, so after a while I closed my eyes, feeling the air flowing over me carrying with it the smell of the flowers in some nearby garden and taste of the chemicals from the factory on the opposite bank. The lapping of the water lulled me to sleep.
I woke up with the sun and the music, enveloped in a cold breeze, imagining myself to be in the hills again, enamoured by the beauty and undetered by the heights. The memory of the first touch of the water on my skin brought goosebumps to my flesh and I sighed. The lake had become a sensory explosion, much more than I asked for. Or came for. Or expected.
(To be continued…)