He dreams of rainfall, there are horses, their breath be heavy and slow, a steady amongst the chaos of the dream. He tries to pull himself up on the horse, but there isn’t anything to grab upon. The hairs on its mane too fragile to grab, he struggles, he feels his muscles burn and burn before he reaches to the top of the heavy stead. Like the rain the light falls, he feels the warmth of the horse underneath him, he tells it to go, unsure of the places it may lead, it is in all, somewhere, else. Stones are kicked and turned under its heavy hooves as they a group, a team, a one, move through the night, cutting the cold hard wet air like it meant nothing to them. The smell of pine and fire grow closer and closer. The horse collapses, no longer is this journey meant for it. He stands as the glow of his ruined life cast a shadow larger than him. He feels doubt, shame, pity, and tears. Unknowing is the feeling, but the taste is something he can conjure. The rain turns to ash, it falls and falls. Blanketing itself upon everything it can. Gray is the world he is in. He turns and turns. Begging for light that wasn’t his hope in flames, it is not down the street or hidden somewhere safe, no his hope, his hope burns and burns. A toss and maybe a turn.
The clock glows 5:00am as if to mean anything. Birds sing their songs, the sun is somewhere close, bringing more heat. His feet make an almost peeling sound as he walks through the house to the kitchen. Cabinets slam, cups clatter, and water runs. The coffee drips liquid gold or something like it. He spills some on his hand as he tries to pour it into the cup. “Why isn’t there a light on?” He asks himself. Making his way to the table the light comes on with a flick. The stacks of timelines tilt to near destruction, gravity almost having its way. Placing the cup on the table he tries to straighten them, they fall, spilling all the possibilities everywhere. “Fuck…” he murmurs as the last pieces of paper settle on the floor. Sweeping them to the side and off the chair, he sits down. More heat, the coffee nearly burns his tongue, but in an afterthought. His mind moves around the dream or nightmare to hopefully grasp on its meaning. Picking up a piece of paper from the ground he scribbles the details across, not to be forgotten. Staring at the barely legible words, rubbing the still wet ink with his thumbs he speaks in a soft voice “Maybe it’s not such a terrible idea…” a small announcement to no one. Drinking the rest of the coffee in his cup he heads to the shower, to get cleaned up to go.
The drive is quiet and cool. With the windows cracked the noise from the road is the only one present in the car. Farther, or closer, the road begins to narrow and the crowd begins to thin, what was once 4 lanes becomes 2. An hour passes, the sun sits low in the east as he takes a right onto familiar but poorly maintained dirt road. Vines and trees cover the sign that marked the entrance. The smell of pine leaks through the cracked windows as the trees become taller. The brakes squeak a little as the car rolls to a stop, rainfall washed out the rest of the way,” but it couldn’t be much further” he thought of stepping out of the car. Another 15 minutes slip by, he stands to look out at the pond that used to be a lake. He walks to the peer he used to jump off when he was young, but now it sat above the water alone and dilapidated. The cities needed their water, they needed it. He didn’t know then, what he knows now, that some memories are only that. His hand finds its way to his pocket, to his device. He goes back.
The water nips at his shoes, birds sing a new life or a life that is there now. Walking along he can see the gaunt green bus parked at the camp site. The kids scream and holler for the joy of it all, to be outside, to be far away from the horrid house with its bent facade. He can see himself, young and alone. He imagines and maybe his younger self-imagined this too, on how things could have been different if there was never a fire if the faulty wires weren’t faulty. He watches as he picks up a smooth stone in his young hand, he looks down and finds one for himself. The child him moves his arm back and so does he, with some force the stones skip across the water. He smiles and his younger self smiles of the simplicity of it all. With one more inhale of the clean mountain air he heads back to his time.
The lake is gone again, but this time, the memories are not. He spins the keys around his fingers as he walks back to the car. The drive back is uneventful and perfect. “Maybe it’s not such a terrible idea.” he thinks to himself as he walks through the front door. Picking up each timeline and stacking them into neat piles. He knew what he needed to do, but no longer did he need to find the courage to do it.