Her son was sixteen now, twice the age of young Stevie, and half his innocence. Naivete had largely been washed away with the evolving years of youth, yet when he disappeared from her view up the distant path, dread took hold of her heart. It was cold and constricting, with what seemed to be an unbreakable grip. She knew that place along the path, a place where it turned down under a bridge, down beside the river. The river was slow moving and murky out in its deeper center, but along the rocky embankment the shallows were clear to a sandy bottom. She should have known that but, even on this warm, sunny summer morning, she only saw darkness and shadow, and swirling clouded waters. Waters that could cover and conceal.
There had been some chiding, some laughing jibes about declining fitness - too much board game action, Dungeons and Dragons, and not enough physical activity. She knew the creativity was a good thing, but wished he would redirect some of that to other interests - outdoor interests. It had been so long since last he rode his bike that both wheels had become flat in the heat of the garage, the battery of the bar-mounted computer drained. To prove her wrong he had quickly accelerated away, deigning to look back nor even slow down, presenting a sign of weakness. And so it was that the gap between them had grown to a quarter mile or more, easily enough to disappear from view around the bend.
She knew the fear was an irrational one, but that thought just made it worse, and it subsumed the part of her mind that fought to retain a calm normalcy. "Everything is alright" became a mantra which was quickly overwhelmed by that fear-driven imagination, and burst forth in uncontrolled sobs. Quickening her pace only encouraged the fear to grow. Others along the path took notice of her distress and, out of concern, inquired. Admitting that she was not alright, that something dreadful awaited at the bend would make it real and so she ignored their entreaties, rushing past them instead, even as they turned to help.
As she reached that point where she last saw him pedaling away she was torn - should she scan along the shore of the river, or not. Again, that whole idea that doing so would make reality out of possibility. That would be unbearable, but her eyes turned toward the pale green water anyway. She noticed nothing, but that was little relief. That did not come until she climbed the path back up from under the bridge; there he was, still far ahead, but in sight. It was enough, and like that, a snapping of fingers, a split second, a blink of an eye, relief came and calm was restored.
Knowing full well she finds herself too emotionally caught up in such things she thought, Gawd why did i have to watch that movie last night, anyway.
Excepting some mid-ride dramatics, a brief excursion to Seal Beach was a nice change from our familiar inland heat today. After yesterdays festivities, there was plenty of red, white and blue still in evidence, though maybe a little heavy on the blue.