To resist is to conquer.
Breathe the burn.
Before he left we used to make boats out of paper or leaves, with masts of straw. We would put them in the stream and watch them sail away, betting on who'd win. He'd always win. He was always better at making the boat, better at picking the current, never got caught in the eddies, never tipped over. Never got hit by the stones he threw...
I threw another ball, hard, at the colourful tin cans stacked on a table at the back of the little Tin Can Alley booth. They didn't just topple and fall: they flew apart, landing everywhere on the grassy floor. The owner of the booth sighed and nodded. I picked up yet another ball and took aim. The next tin can pyramid exploded, and I took a deep, satisfied breath. That'd make me the winner of the grand prize of the rackety stall: a model ship, complete with masts and sails. When the booth owner reluctantly handed me the ship I could see that there were even little anchors hanging from the stern and bow, and a steering wheel.
I carried the ship with me through the milling throng of people out looking for a good time as the dusk settled over the fairground. The sounds of happy kids were gradually replaced with the excited voices of teens getting the most out of the evening before curfew.
Down by the stream everything was quiet. The water curled and tingled its way over rocks between the banks, getting little white specks on the swirls as the flow got faster and stronger before disappearing under the bridge, some fifty yards away. I knelt on the bank, carefully setting the little ship down on the moss. From my inner pocket I pulled a piece of paper, and in the last rays of the setting sun I folded a white paper boat. My fingers knew how to do it, so I closed my eyes and thought of you, and when I opened them again, the boat was there.
"This is for me," I whispered as I set the paper boat down on the stream. It spun around and around, quickly getting caught by the current and drawn out into the middle of the creek.
"And this is for you!"
The wooden ship rolled a bit, but stayed steady upright. There was no breeze to catch the sails, but the current still moved it along at a surprising pace.
I jumped up and ran towards the bridge while keeping an eye out for the white speck that was my boat. The wooden ship was invisible against the dimly lit banks, but once I stood on the bridge I could see it in all its model glory. It was way ahead of my paper boat which was dancing along like a drunk ballerina, making as much sideway as it was making headway.
As the pretty ship was about to enter the white specked water under the bridge I took aim and threw the rock I had picked up earlier. The ship didn't fly apart or break. It just disappeared with a sad little sound, and then the water was empty. Empty, apart from the confused paper boat stuck in an eddy, swirling and rotating madly until it got so soaked it gave up and drowned.
I nodded once, and though I didn't feel any joy, I smiled.
Curled up on the lakeshore, holding cold breath, covered in moss.
Searching, I find freedom.