Now and Then

Winding up the hill and around the gravel road we followed as seagulls swung over the sea, singing soft symphonies. Their noise carried through the wind and up the hill towards the family house. Laughter had filled the air as Aunties, Uncles, Mums, Dads and Grandparents caught up in the kitchen. With a beer in one hand and tongs in the other my uncle stood at the BBQ cooking our lunch. Plates piled onto the table, sausages, salads, potato and bread. Tumies rumbled and the chatting simmered until all you could hear was the crunching of salad and an occasional “can you pass the butter”. Us kids quickly scoffed our food to escape to somewhere more exciting. We all got the “okay” from our parents and flew down the hill towards the hot summers day awaiting our arrival. A place where the sea met the shore, where the Pohutukawas dangled over the sand and a place where kids were set free. Exploring the warm blue seas, ragged rocks and waterholes. We stayed until the sun draped along the distant ocean. Gesturing us to make our way up to the house. Following our noses we dragged our tired legs up the hill, gently passing a ball back and forth. The day was ending and before I knew it I found myself rustling through the tent to get to my bed. My head hit the pillow. Closing my eyes I drifted off into a daze.

I return to this place, where I once ran free without a care in the world. So much has changed. Seagulls are scarce and there songs have turned into screeches. Laughter has been replaced with shouting as disagreements escalate. The suns dulled by smoke that reminisces from the burnt relationships, leaving nothing but ashes on the ground and darkened skies. Spine chilling winds tumble around my body as evil energies catch the drift of my untouched soul. The musty ocean spray crawls up my nose, circling around inside me, begging me to give in. Sand as solid as rock, enabling me to leave any sign I was even there. Instead imprinting in my soul with the recollection of an easier time. Leaves fell from wilted trees as I let out a single breath, this place is without a hurry, dying. Wandering around the jagged rocks I was left staring into the deep abyss of a waterhole. It looks back at me replaying the memories we created in the youth of this place. Everyone else has given up on this old place, and so have I. Winding down the hill and around the gravel road for the last time, a trail runs past my nose and down my chin leaving me with nothing but a soiled memories and an empty soul.

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