e river was cold, and the current strong.
She remembered, as she watched herself, the aches in her shoulders and arms. e stiﬀ heaviness of them, as if she’d been wearing armour. She remembered not understanding why, for all that eﬀort, the silhouette of the sycamore trees stubbornly stayed the same size, just as the bank stayed exactly the same distance away. She remembered swallowing some of the dirty water. And looking around at the other bank, the bank from where she had come and the place where she was kind of now standing, watching, along with that younger version of her brother and his friends, beside her, oblivious to her present self, and to the bookshelves on either side of them.
She remembered how, in her delirium, she had thought of the word ‘equidistant’. A word that belonged in the clinical safety of a classroom. Equidistant. Such a neutral, mathematical kind of word, and one that became a stuck thought, repeating itself like a manic meditation as she used the last of her strength to stay almost exactly where she was. Equidistant. Equidistant. Equidistant. Not aligned to one bank or the other.
at was how she had felt most of her life.
Caught in the middle. Struggling, ﬂailing, just trying to survive while not knowing which way to go. Which path to commit to without regret.
She looked at the bank on the other side – now with added bookshelves, but still with the large silhouette of a sycamore tree leaning over the water like a worried parent, the wind shushing through its leaves.
‘But you did commit,’ said Mrs Elm, evidently having heard Nora’s thoughts. ‘And you survived.’