I frown at the blue sky peppered with white, fluffy clouds. The weather is always perfect. I’m starting to find it annoying. I sigh, scanning the clearing for movement. I wait patiently, laser focused on anything that might disrupt the stillness.

Just as my mind is about to wander, a pucker in the soil catches my eye. Slowly, carefully, almost imperceptibly, I make my way towards the movement. I crouch down, eyes alight with interest, watching the tiny boulders of soil make way for what lies beneath.

“You can do it.” I whisper. “You just have to remember how.”

It happens slowly. Deliberately. As if the seed is referencing blueprint instructions between each moment of progress. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. Time demanded a divorce and didn’t wait for my reply before storming out. I don’t even know how long I’ve been single. It simultaneously feels like “just yesterday” and “a lifetime ago.”

I can’t help but smile as the ground yields to the green blade piercing the walls of its prison. This time, the pause is different. It is significant. This is the period of rest and adjustment, a reward for seeing through the uncertainty of the dark unknown.

“Told you.” I stand, satisfied, but my smile fades as I lock eyes with him.

“Come in when you’re ready.” He says simply, holding my gaze.

I shake my head curtly, turning my back to him. I walk towards the tree line.

Stillness resumes.


As I move through the forest, I take time to admire the shapes that the shadows of the leaves create on the path. A kaleidoscope of nature as unique as the moment that passes. A breeze arrives. The leaves rustle. The image resets as if someone has shaken an Etch-A-Sketch.

A pulsing catches my eye at the base of an ancient oak. I press my hand to the bark to steady myself as I lean closer to the movement. Something pokes through the leaves before retreating into the burrow.

“Don’t worry.” I say softly. “You’re in the right place.”

It doesn’t respond. I know better than to hope. I know better than to wish. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if this moment is the one for which I’ve been waiting. The thought of it rejuvenates my patience and I return to my stoic stillness.

Despite my resolve, I become restless. The mound of leaves is too still compared to the wind through the branches which whispers ancient advice from the trees that have seen more than tongue could tell. As the cacophony spirals, I clench my jaw to stop from lashing out. The wind picks up, catching the outstretched limbs of the fallen leaves, lifting them into flight and clearing the brush from the base of the oak. I inhale to demand stillness, but the wind abruptly dies before I can ask it to do the same.

After grimacing at nothing, I kneel next to the oak and try to hide my disappointment. “Hey. The hard part’s over.”

The fox tentatively opens her eyes. She unfurls herself and sticks her nose out to sniff the air before darting out of the hole and down a path in the forest. She doesn’t look back and I know I’ll never see her again.

He calls my name.

I turn towards the sound of his voice, but say nothing.

“Come inside when you’re ready.” He says simply. “We’re waiting.”

“Not yet.” I answer stiffly, before wandering away.


I pause at the lake because someone else is there.

It’s not the first time. I know there are others like me, but the nature of our existence is singular. We do not waste our time with pleasantries. I am not there for him and he is not there for me and therefore we find each other inconsequential. Yet, there is an instant, unspoken camaraderie in our existence.

The man stoops to grab a smooth stone and wades out into the water. After an impressive wind up, he releases the projectile with careful accuracy. Each place the stone kisses the stream sends ripples cascading to the shores. The man studies the movement beneath the water and turns to me with a broad smile. I can’t help but quiver with anticipation as I remind myself this may simply be another false alarm.

We stand there, he and I, watching the ripples dissolve into stillness before he frantically waves me to his side. Without hesitation, I plunge into the water, struggling in the mud to reach him so I can observe the world through his perspective. As I near, the ripples cease. He holds one finger to his lips, a twinkle in his eye, and points to the opposite shore.

I hear her bark before I can register that it’s really her. She stutters her steps on the bank—she’s never liked the water. I splash towards her, calling her name, and crawl out of the lake. I clutch her golden fur with both hands and press my forehead to hers as she licks off my happy tears.

Time creeps back unexpectedly, washing over me in memories and relief. She’s young again, barely more than a puppy. I haven’t seen her like this in years, but it’s how I’ve always thought of her. She looks over my shoulder and yips happily. I look back.

“Come in when you’re ready.” He stands there, holding her favorite ball.

I stand, nodding. “We’re ready.”

“Then, let’s go!” He laughs before tossing the ball into the horizon. She barks in gleeful pursuit, and we both run after her.