I hear the wash of ocean waves breaking on a ragged shore before an image drifts into view. The coast is a boundary, the turmoil of the sea a barrier between the jagged rocks of the land and the unknown darkness of the water. A single tree grows in the distance, it is wind worn and dead, wood rotten but preserved by salt spray and the baking summer sun, now forgotten by the coming winter.

There is no reason to be here. Nothing of value lies hidden amongst the stones. Footsteps scatter black shingle and crack slate, the once mud that fed primitive shrimp before they were prey.

I feel the girl take my hand. Not like a daughter and not like a friend. She is my companion. She says nothing. I cannot bring myself to look at her. In our minds we share a thought about the silver pool. I have yet to touch its surface, still it frightens me.

I feel the girl’s upset flowing through the skin of her hand, through my arm and towards my heart. She is patient but frustrated.

Why do I keep bringing us here? This coast is prehistoric and will not yield to the water. The same waves that crash in the distance will not stop and anything worthy of harvest has been taken. It is bleak, constant. Adventure may have brought us here but it is not a destination. It is a trap in which I hold us, she does not want to be here but refuses to leave me alone. Her fate is stitched to mine but she will not lead.

I feel a secret in her mind, a secret she is desperate to share but she knows the wind will overwhelm her voice. A voice she has never used, that doesn’t belong in this place. Yet I stand firm.

Behind us, pulsing over my shoulder, the entrance to the cavern yawns. The girl twitches, she wants us to go back inside, to see again the silver pool, to jump in and be swallowed alive. Yet I stand firm.

We stay in the open. Time passes. The girl is constant but I grow older. Always she is trying, at times strong enough to reach out beyond the sky and into my dreams. I look as she directs me, observing at a distance the life I lead. Standing firm, my fear a thin cloak but what I have to shield me from the cold.

As I grow older, in the distance I hear children playing and crying. The clouds grow ever more dense and heavy. Impenetrable to everything accept the most urgent sounds, yet still I fail to act. My fear of the pool is constant.

I prepare. A thousand times I have told myself that terror or not, it is the pool or it is this. Decades spent wandering the stones has left me exhausted. But depression is familiar and safe, the pool is unknown. Hope is dangerous to the colours of despair. I am tired of falling down.