After Whitney chased her dreams to New York, I decided to follow mine down the St. Johns. She said she had wanted to be an au pair since childhood, but I knew better. I knew she loathed the way this equatorial sun sits on your skin, kissing you like the devil’s lips. I also knew she would find her happiness there.
So I set off, the lazy water lapping at my sides with the promise of being my own private Walden. I even planned to introduce myself as Henry David to strangers along the way, and I longed to see if Emerson was right about the grotesque region awaiting me north of St. Augustine. I smiled, the hope that he had lied to me tickling my heart.
Two days in, my arms matched the tea-colored river, and I thought about Whit.
Summers used to be my favorite, John, but here they’re just brutal.
There’s always shade somewhere.
And she’d look my way with those doe eyes, close enough for me to see my own reflection. In the days leading up to her flight, I didn’t see myself there anymore.
Three hundred miles didn’t seem so far. Then again, far doesn’t really exist when there’s no real destination. Making it all the way to Jacksonville wasn’t on my mind; I just wanted to see a few things and meet a few folks. I brought a fishing rod and caught my dinner when I felt like being alone.
Fo(u)nd Memories is now a published short story collection! To read the full story, order a copy here.