Sweat

I long for the sea, but the road just keeps on climbing. This isn’t what I expected and it isn’t what I want. My skin is covered with a film of sweat and my feet are burning in my shoes. I can’t even hear the sea here.

I’ve stopped looking ahead. I’ve stopped looking back, too, though behind me is a vista of the sea, the horizon strung with islands in shades of smoky blue. I did stop, I did look back, I even considered turning round, handing back the miles I’ve gained for the consolation of my little beach.  But I’m too aware of how that would end: in a repeat of this climb, or a desolate return to the grey life before.

At this moment that beach hangs in my mind like an image of forever, but I know it’s not real. If I hadn’t known it myself, the birds were telling me every second that I spent there: “Not here,” they cried. “Not here – you can feel it here, you can taste it, you can hear it in our voices, but it’s not here. Go on.”

So I do. Though the sweat on my face is mingled with tears, and my breath grates through my chest, I keep climbing. The horizon is lost to me – the very grass is a blur. My eyes are on the ground between my feet. One step. Then another. Then another. Right now, it’s as much as I can do to just keep walking.

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