Still Water

It smelled of rain. He could see the waterfall drumming away at the window, obscuring all reality beyond it. Inside the terminal it was dry and warm, but the smell persisted. The bitter smell of wet concrete, of fresh rubber.  His lids scraped against his swollen red eyes. He held them shut, squeezed them tighter, pressed his fingers over them. But when he opened them once more they stung no less.

Turning his head towards the window he drowned himself in the shower that purveyed it. Lost in the indistinguishable streams of water he imagine he was back at the river, bathing underneath the falls. Shivering in the sunlight. He would could never go back. the river was not the same, the faces of those he had shared those days with had dried and cracked as the lake bed did in summer. Some had sunk into the soil for respite and would never return.

He wondered if it rained in heaven. If the rivers flowed steadily all year, swelling the lakes up with no room for drought. If the water would carry that same chill that would stab through your bones even on the warmest of days. He wondered if he still remembered how to swim. If they would remember.

He was leaving now. There was no reason to stay. He had spent his whole life compromising, understanding the needs of others, putting them before himself, and now it was his turn to fly. To see all the things the others had seen. To make stories of his own. To put the memories of the water behind him and climb up away from it.

“Attention all passengers on flight 936 to Kathmandu, we will now begin boarding on Gate 17. Please proceed to Gate 17 for boarding.”

He heard the announcement. He willed his legs forward and his body upward, but no movement came. He pushed and still it did not obey.He sighed back a deep breath, propped his hands up on the arm rest, awkwardly thrust his body upward and reached for his luggage. As he took a step toward the gate he realized his luggage did not follow. He took a step back and reached for it once more, but his hand slipped through the handle. Confused and startled he look back to the chair where he sat, sleeping. He had never opened his eyes.

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