Collateral Beauty


Her breaths came out of her in a rush still, she would not stop running. Her lungs seemed on fire, screaming for reprieve. Her muscles were clenching, burning, begging her to ease up. Still, she would not stop. Stopping would mean confronting her pain. Sodiya was not ready. She needed this. She kept on running.

For a silver medalist at the State Teen's marathon race, running was not new to her. Every path in the woods laid open before her, inviting her in. Sodiya ran deeper into the woods, not bothered about where she was headed.

Leaves and tree branches hanging loosely flapped and hit her from all sides. The dry branches and tree trunks scattered on the ground almost caught her legs but could not halt her race. She would not be held back till she came to the sanctuary she sought.

The crystal clear water flowing down from the mountain unto the rocks to the ground was mesmerizing and peaceful.


Sodiya came to a halt beside the flowing water. She bent down holding her knees and sucking in as much fresh air as her strong, healthy lungs could take in after the race. She took a good look around, admiring the beauty of nature surrounding her.

She cupped her hands together, fetched some water and poured it on her face to cool her warm body temperature. She took off her slippers. The soft, wet ground was cool beneath her feet.

Another deep breath, Sodiya laid down on a flat rock close to the water flowing down from the rock. The tiny sprays of water on her body was welcoming. She got wet but did not care. She closed her eyes, her deep brown, silky hair spread out on the rock. Her ears could pick up the melodious chirping of the birds on the trees, the soft whooshing of the breeze, the drizzle of the spring water.

A couple of birds flew by, stopped mid-flight right above her, chirped playfully then flew away. A colourful butterfly flew by. She wet her lips with her tongue, lapping up some of the water that splashed on her from the waterfall. She wished she could be free like the lovely birds. Free to fly away and roam the skies. Free to be one with nature and share of its beauty so the world could admire her as well. Maybe that would lessen the pain or bring her no pain at all.

Do the birds lose their companions? Pff, of course, they do. How do they go on? The loss of Dave, her best friend right from childhood to the covid-19 virus is one she doubts she could ever get over. How could she go on living without him? All their plans to be best friends forever, the oath they took at age 10 to never be separated had been foiled.

The universe had a different plan. Everyone seems unable to comfort her or reach her. Sodiya knew her dad must be beside himself searching for her now. She'd rather just stay here, probably forever.

This part of the woods was hers and Dave's sanctuary, their private peaceful place. It was like she could feel him close by. She could smell the faint scent of wet leaves and flowers as well. Though some flowers die, some stay alive and keep blooming. When their time comes, they die just as some others grow. The circle of life.

Enjoying the calm that comes from appreciating the green, dewy plants, the lovely, blooming flowers, the cool spray of crystal clear spring water on her face, Sodiya knew in her heart somehow that she would be fine. She will keep living, knowing that's what Dave would want for her.

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