When the waters rose and swept between the pillars of an innocuous shrine, it was said a voice could be heard by those standing beneath its graceful wooden arch. Intrigued by this rumor, I arrived there just as the rainy season petered off and stood where calm water met grass, toes bare, gazing outward at the flat expanse of shallows stretching to the horizon. Upon stepping onto the sandy path leading out to the shrine, buried beneath inches of clear rainwater, the splashing of my steps seemed insignificant against all that emptiness.
Little rock gardens stretched away to my left and right, lit by afternoon sunlight beneath the ripples my motion created. The people here knew the depths of water would arrive every year to kill whatever grass they managed to encourage up from the earth, but they built beauty here all the same. Still, my heart thumped dully beneath my collarbone, hardly moved, my walk to the shrine a mechanical one.
I arrived between the shrine’s old pillars too soon, before feeling could return to my chest. Deeper water rose and fell around my thighs now, threatening to push me over, and I rested a hand against smooth lacquered wood to keep myself upright. Once steadied and focused, I cocked my head, listening, for I had heard something… familiar.
Then I realized what maybe a few other visitors had understood before me. It was only my own voice, telling me what I needed to hear.
Shhhhhhhhhhhh… shhhhhhhhhh… it said.
Fingers trailing in water, palm rested against ancient tree, toes pressed into sand, and hair tousled by wind, I closed my eyes. And I listened to what I had to say.
A little, just a very little, the weight in my heart eased. For now, it was enough.
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