No going back to that earlier time

Ten years had passed since I was here last.

Yet it could have been yesterday, so little had changed.

Barefoot, I balanced over the remains of the bridge spanning a sedate stream and walked down the sandy track I used to run.

Soon the gorse-lined lane opened out on to the beach.

My feet carried me to the water's edge and along, following the shoreline.

Waves threw themselves at the beach, an eternal pattern.

One of beauty, peace and an untamed spirit.

Soft black sand brushed my toes, guiding my path around the driftwood and pebbles.

Ahead of me, river met sea, breaking the pattern.

Here, so much had changed.

A small channel fed the sea, whilst the main river relaxed in a large pristine pool before lazily continuing its journey.

I raised my eyes and surveyed the rugged bluffs standing strong in the distance, my eyes followed the windswept coastline back to the present.

I had this urge to freeze time and walk, walk until I could walk no more.

The channel separating me from the far bank seemed insignificant, shallow.

I stepped into the river, my river - the river I had spent my summers at.

The water was icy cold and pure, numbing my feet.

The shallow waves washed over my feet, making me feel strangely uneasy, nervous.

And with each advancing step, that feeling of danger and nervousness increased.

It was as if I was polluting the river with my presence, and my river was rejecting me for that.

I turned and waded back to dry land, forcing myself to walk dignified, despite feeling as though the river would come up and swallow me at any moment.

The feeling ceased immediately as I left the water and I continued along the edge, staring out over the vast body of water, wondering where my childhood had gone.

The wind played with my hair, raising goose-bumps, despite the warmth of the sun.

I could see every pebble, every stone, every grain of sand lining the bottom of the pristine depths.

It was calm, an oasis of peace. But one I no longer belonged to - I had chosen to leave.

I turned to go, soon only my footprints would remain, and they too would vanish, leaving no trace of my visit.

But as I picked my way between gorse bushes and driftwood, I felt I was leaving a part of me behind.

Some part of me still belonged here and though it hurt, I knew I had to move on.

My eyes drank in the site of the modest unnamed tributary I had crossed earlier.

The small joyful stream reminded me of a photography competition I had entered years earlier in primary school; a photo of the place where you feel you belong.

Some kids took photos of their bedrooms, others the playground.

Me? I had taken my photo at the creek that bordered our farm, a creek very much like this one.

But that creek was no longer mine to enjoy.

Where, I wondered, would I take that picture now?


• By Robin Pieper, Year 12, Dunstan High School



Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter