His bare feet grounded softly in the sandy shore of a dreamland. It wasn’t night or day, it was blue. The air was still, but the leaves around were waving slightly, brushing the surface of the water that opened before him.
His bag had grown heavy with years of travels, and the belongings it contained, although most of them were treasures, had become an increasing weight bearing down on his shoulders. He laid the bag and his body to the ground, putting them both to rest.
He stayed quiet, his mind emptying over long streams of time. Looking inside, he found himself weary of the road ahead, unable to avoid his apprehensions. He frowned.
Without thinking, almost mechanically, he reached for his bag, like he’d done so many times before. He unlaced the tired fabric and opened it, as if there was something inside which he needed. Feeling the contents only with his hand, he slowly surveyed his treasures.
The surface of the water was traversed with the slightest of ripples, just enough to attract his gaze to the calm, liquid space. A shell had drifted, large and empty, from places unknown to this shore. At its first contact with the grainy sand, it ended its almost motionless journey. His mind wandered back to the bag.
Waves of memories came to him as his hand reached deeper. Some of immense joy and contentment, others of sadness, pain, or doubt. And as each memory came alive, he felt encumbered and restless, overwhelmed and insecure. Heavy.
One by one, he slowly pulled out every piece of memory, feeling it for what it was worth, and placed it carefully into the shell in front of him. Contemplating his treasures out in the open, he thought, would certainly put his mind to rest. The shell became ever increasingly filled, to the point where he felt his whole life was being laid down, like an offering.
As the last memory left his hand, the shell detached softly from the shore, sending the slightest of ripples across the surface of the water. In the moment, he thought of reaching forward to cling to it, but refrained.
His eyes remained with the vessel and its floating treasures, until they dissolved into the fading horizon. And as the last stretches of blurred color were sinking into the sky, something happened. His heart was lifted. No longer did he need to rest, or to bend his mind over apprehensions. He felt the breeze to his face. He felt readier for the road ahead.
He raised his body slowly, giving attention to his movements, listening from the inside. He felt light, refreshed, cleansed. “If only for this moment”, he thought, “I am at peace”.
Turning away from the shore, he took his first steps into a brand new direction. As he was approaching the road, he noticed her for the first time. She moved a strain of dark hair from her silky cheek and calmly looked at him. She’d been there all along, quiet, observing, and also apprehensive at times. She extended her hand, sincerely. He smiled and took it.
As they started walking together, he put his arm around her. Caressing her gently, his fingers noticed a crease at the top of her shoulder.
She’d been carrying a bag, too.