The grass is always greener on the other side. Maybe that’s why we never could resist it. Time after time, step by step, as we approached the bridge that led to the tiny island on the river, we felt that rush of something we couldn’t explain. Excitement, exhilaration, adventure? What would we discover as we gingerly stepped across the worn wooden planks, you and I?
“I could see myself spending the afternoon under that grove of willow trees with a blanket and a book,” I remember you once said. You took the words right out of my mouth. A weeping willow to embrace us, as we immersed ourselves in a fictional world within the island’s green sanctuary.
And for a short while, we’d find ourselves in a real-life fairy-tale, watching people walking their dogs on the arched bridge, like three billy goats Gruff tip-tapping past. The swans gliding down the river, cygnets in tow, reminded us that ugly ducklings do emerge beautiful, and the passing tour boat evoked an image of a Disney jungle cruise. Seeing the floating wooden dock in the middle of the river, we’d imagine ourselves escaping on a raft down the river, like Huck Finn, finding refuge on our uninhabited island. Except, of course, it wasn’t uninhabited.
It was inhabited by memories in the making. Children climbing trees, couples holding hands on park benches, families picnicking at tables, fathers and daughters and sons and mothers in paddle boats. And you and I. It was so simple it was surreal. Ripples in the river, the sun glistening off the water, the murmur of the wind through the willows, the shimmer of summer heat in the air...
Hand in hand, side by side, we strolled, lost in our own thoughts. No need to vacation on a Caribbean island, cruise the Amazon, or stand on a bridge in Venice as gondolas glide under. We had all that and more. It never occurred to us to capture it in a photograph. Instead, we captured the memories. We captured the laughter.
Like the time I almost got mugged. The black swan grabbed hold of my purse and tugged as though it belonged to him. I suppose it was just his way of being friendly, his way of asking if we had any food to spare. Perhaps he was a Robin Hood of sorts. A rare bird, an uncommon robber, an unexpected moment of whimsy etched into our minds. Those simple memories link us to each other, much like the arched bridge connected us to our fairy-tale oasis ringed by the river moat.
What other adventures will we encounter as we tread along life’s path, you and I? Now, each time I approach the top of the arch, looking forward to stepping on our island, I stop to look down at the sparkling river flowing beneath, and I feel a rush of nostalgia. The grass is always greener in the reflection of our memories.
Ivanka Fear is a former teacher now pursuing her passion for writing. She lives in midwestern Ontario, Canada, with her family and cats. Her poems and short stories appear in Spadina Literary Review, Montreal Writes, Adelaide Literary, October Hill, Scarlet Leaf Review, The Sirens Call, The Literary Hatchet, Understorey, Aphelion, Muddy River Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She has written six mystery/suspense novels and is looking for a publisher. You can read more about her at https://ivankafear.wixsite.com/mysite - Twitter: @FearIvanka