I’m hiking the steepest part of Wildwood Canyon in the late afternoon. My muscles are screaming for oxygen but each gulp of air seems to bring only dust.
This hike is both real and in my head, for I am scaling the internal terrain of my disappointment with Liam.
He walks ahead of me, leaving his excuses behind for me to gather, like tinder to stoke the fire of my fury. I stab him in the back with my angry words, but he just skitters away like a tiny lizard, looking for the next sunny rock.
My anger crests like the hill I am climbing. I cannot even keep Liam’s attention for the length of my stride.
I lean into the last stretch of incline. I watch his back, solid even as it recedes from me. I hold my breath in my lungs, imagining oxygen molecules entering my blood stream and coursing through my body.
Then, suddenly, the climb is over. Wildwood Canyon opens up in front of me, and I want to fall to my knees like a supplicant in a church nave. The wind strokes my cheek and ruffles my hair, and somehow this breaks the anger into small pieces. I let out my breath and the sharp edges of the disappointment fly away. I’ll give him another chance, I think.
As if he could read my thoughts, Liam turns around and waits for me to catch up.