A glut of trees barricaded the land from the sea. Had they always been there? I wasn’t sure. I stopped at the edge, stared back at the way I had travelled. Blackness descended early tonight. In its effort to portend, predict, and show my future.
Turn back it almost whispered. Turn back and live the life your mother wants.
I pushed back the branches, and stepped through a portal of trees. Once inside they separated into a meandering path. I twisted around – if I went back now nobody would notice. I would get married, have children, and my husband would look after me. If I took another step, another life would take over.
My farm clothes felt safe against my skin, as I blend in with the foliage. I keep on walking, occasionally stopping to put berries into my cloth bag. Years of training ingrained in my being like the light from the mesmerising moon. Picking the wrong fruit could land you in an early grave.
I imagined her voice carried on the wind. ‘It’s never too late to come home.’
It had been too late the moment I stepped into this wood.
I wasn’t sure of how long I was walking, but the light shone through the branches when I heard it first. Waves lapped against the shore in a hypnotic rhythm. I smiled, and wrapped my berries in a bundle.
Parting the palm leaves, I removed my shoes, slung them over my neck. My feet sunk into the cool sand, reaching between my toes, until the familiar washed me with power.
I heard it first, the paddle knocking against the helm of the small boat. I let the sand lead me in the right direction. A solid, wooden safety net, big enough for me to sit inside had been there all the time. Was this the craft my mother brought us in all those years ago?
‘Sorry Mum,’ I said, as I pushed the boat into deeper waters.