She walked through the swarming streets heading towards the beachfront. She smiled at the woman who crossed her path and touched her outstretched hands that were offering her a garland of jasmine woven with small roses. She took the garland and put it around her neck as her hair was too short to weave it in there. She paid the woman, smiled and moved on as the woman waved at her smilingly.
The sun was high in the sky but the sea remained grey as usual. She had wondered when she had first arrived at the seaside why the sea was always grey but had got used to it. It seemed like it had to blend with the darker colour of the rocks on the seaside. She thought back to the beautiful sparkling beaches in North Africa and wondered whether it was the pollution here that made the sea turn grey close to the coast.
She sat on a rock overlooking the beach and stared at the sea. The waves were making a gentle lulling sound interrupted from time to time by the shrieks of children jumping into the water. It was a joyous sight but somehow she could not help her heart feeling heavy. She could not get over the feeling that something had completely stirred out of control in her destiny, changing her future, and that it was not by chance. Barely a year and a half had gone by but it seemed like it was light years away.
Back home to keep the memories of those moments of the future she had glimpsed she had resorted to collecting falling leaves in which she mentally inscribed glimpses of that future. Over time, the future she had seen seemed to be slowly fading into oblivion and she would then take out the leaves to remember. Each leaf reminded her vividly of a place in time where she had been in thought and where she had lived an incredible adventure filled with love and happiness.
Her right hand felt for the small basket that was tucked inside her handbag. It was still there and she sighed a sigh of relief. She wondered how it could be so small and hold so much at the same time. She got up from the rock and resumed her walk but towards the canal this time. It was one of the rare places in the city where stagnant water was not necessarily a synonym of stench and rot. At some points it even looked beautiful with profuse vegetation and a small bridge-like construction.
The water was a sombre green. She walked to the bridge, looked over the edge of it and slowly emptied the small basket. The leaves fell into the water and swirled away with the current caused by the wind. She watched until they were out of sight and felt as though her heart were leaving with those swirling leaves. Yet she knew that she could not hold on to the leaves as a totem anymore. They had to disappear for what they represented to reappear.
Those moments of the lost future she had lived had to be reintegrated within her. They belonged to her and had to be a part of her again, not relegated to the role of externalised memories. Her heart warmed slowly with the returning memories that filled her being with love. It was as if the release of the leaves had opened a dam within her. The images cascaded in her mind like a whirlpool of sunny water as they filled her neurons. Tears of joy streamed down her face and wiping them she lifted her head and smiled up at the skies. It did not matter anymore that it had been steered away for it existed out there. It was forever hers.