Waves crashed beneath her, and a cool night wind blew through her tangled hair, long past due for a good wash and comb. The moon was marvelously bright that night, so much so it almost seemed like merely dusk. Her robe hung in tatters around her arms, and verses from the poem in her pocket ran incessantly through her head. She breathed in, closing her eyes and feeling a tiny smile spread across her peaceful lips. She was free, she needed no one. And yet it almost seemed too free, too good to last. Time would tell. This was her fate and it would play out accordingly. She lightly pressed a dirt-smudged hand against her forehead. She listened to the pines whispering with the wind, swaying in a beatless dance. Her palm remained on her brow, and she could feel the lines that had grown so prematurely. She was older than she needed to be. She thought perhaps her freedom would erase the lines, take her back away from Sundays. But it didn't, and now, in peaceful realization, she whispered with the pines. Her lips formed the words slowly, slowly
I cannot go back
Another sigh escaped her, but of calm disappointment rather than content. Realization came on tranquilly, and she accepted that she could not erase her past. She remembered the poem, and should have known it all along. She finally reopened her eyes and removed her hand from her forehead. Her moonlight gaze was again directed down towards the churning sea beneath her. Sea? That didn't make sense. River more like it. Too restless for such a peaceful name. It would remain a sea in her mind. Whitecaps surfaced briefly then disappeared back into the blue-gray Sea. It was strangely right how tumultuous the Sea was but how much serenity it instilled. Nature is a curious being to comprehend, she thought, and, turning, retreated into the pines.