it was a soft, palpable silence that can only occur in the absence of familiarity. there was plenty of sound, but it all felt—empty.
the babbling of the steam, accompanied by the calm rustle of leaves as a slow wind crept upstream. the humming and singing of the birds high above. the occasional croak of the far off frog, or splash of an unidentified creature returning to the brisk water.
my toes felt the chill as i stepped in myself. grainy water brushed by my feet—abrasive from the debris i knocked up with my heavy step. smooth rocks poking at my soles.
the water sloshed as i dragged my shin through the stream feeling the cold slowly take over my body. venturing deeper than i thought the stream got. the smooth small rocks underneath my feet turned to slippery stones that shifted under my weight, but that i wouldn’t be able to lift.
my toe stubbed into a softer object just as the water had reached my chest. i paused, feeling the rush of water pass by every part of my body. my feet feeling a slow pull to my left, while my torso was being pushed heavily in the same direction.
the softer object was the root of the tree on the opposite side of the stream. i stepped on it, slipping twice before finding my way up. i climbed the labyrinth of roots out of the stream and stood on the sloped trunk. it was not a fallen tree, but contorted. it sloped out above the water.
i crawled up the trunk passing branches that were beginning to turn barren with the colder weather. i sat near the end, high above the water. i watched the water flow past me. i watched a few leaves fall in and get rushed away. i watched the branches around me slightly sway with the wind.
i saw a fawn drinking from the water upstream. i watched it lift its head for a quick look around, then down to continue drinking. it showed no sign of knowing my presence despite how i broke the silence: the splash of an unidentified creature returning to the water—among the singing birds i was surrounded by, the croak of a far off frog, the rustle of leaves with the slow wind, and the babbling stream below.