By Zoe Moga, TIWP Student
The beach back home was cold. The wind would tangle my hair and sand would stick to my clothes. When I walked barefoot along the ocean, my toes would turn purple and my fingers went numb. And most of the time, it would end up raining, soaking the little ham sandwiches my mother would pack. That’s when we would run back up to our rusty old car carrying all of our blankets and baskets, usually forgetting to put our shoes back on. But if you were from my town, your feet were rough and calloused, immune to the pain of stepping on a sharp rock or running on the prickly forest floor.
Mom and I would take the scenic route back home after the beach, driving along the winding cliffside roads. She used to whisper stories about fairies and spirits as we drove along those roads. Telling me about their queens and kings and courts, filled with little houses in trees and villages made of the mushroom groves. I would write them little letters and leave a berry for them to eat at the edge of my home, to the south of where our sheep grazed and to the west of where the property met the cliff, right at the edge of the forest. At the rock where I would sit and listen to the howling wind, thinking it was the singing of witches casting their spells and singing their songs.
My cousins and I would run through the pastures in the summer when the sun finally shone. There was this little shed, deep in the land that we would sit in when the storms would pass through. Lightning and thunder would clash and crash around us and rain would pound on the tin roof. We liked to lay on the window seat together and comfort my little cousin while he worried about the baby sheep. Sometimes we would fall asleep looking at the golden, dry grass and wake up to bright green fields. My mom always said the rain was an agent of change. That here, the rain was like magic, healing the earth and its inhabitants, leaving us clean of our mistakes, of the things weighing us down. Sometimes, we would stand outside in the middle of a downpour, just existing in nature, letting it cleanse our hearts.
I can still hear her calling out my name. It didn’t matter how far away I was, I could hear her voice echo through the air, telling me to get back home. Time seemed to be slower when I was a child. Like I spent an eternity, a lifetime exploring each square foot of the property. I used to know every inch of it, but never like my mom knew it. She grew up there and stayed there, unlike me. She died there too, sitting in her grandmother’s rocking chair by the big window. The one where she used to sing me old songs. Songs that felt like the wind knotting my hair together and the rain pouring down my face. Ancient songs that felt like home.