The crunch of the grass under my Converse fills my ears as I cross through the forest to the clearing at the end. The sun shines down, lightly warming my skin. The closer I get, the more my body relaxes. 

The salty scent of the rushing water tickles my nose as I make my way down and around the 7-foot falls, to the hidden pool tucked away behind it. It’s an oasis blooming in silent tranquility with no one around to disturb it. 

I reach the edge of the pool and sit down, pulling my jean-clad knees to my chest and resting my chin on them. The birds in the trees sing their song in a symphony to the flowers blooming below them. 

I always found it strange how this was kept hidden. How no one knew of the beauty that lay across the forest. How there sat a cliff joining the forest to the seaside. The falls, a bridge between them. But for now, it’d be my secret.

As the falls roar around me and the birds tweet a new song, I unravel my auburn hair from its bun. Putting the scrunchie beside me, I pull my tank top over my head and slide out of my jeans. I gently fold my clothes, setting them aside, and run my hands down my arms, down my legs, closing my eyes. 

I always loved watching the waves crash against the cliff. Most days I’d bring my easel and find different parts of my secret to capture. Watching from different angles, capturing the chaos of foam and water in acrylic and oil. The roaring falls and my hidden pool. The forest behind me. 

I don’t know when it happened, but one day, as I spent my days laying in the grass, resting in the pool, gazing at the clouds and stars, or painting, I found myself becoming more and more at peace. The tranquility of the place slowly seeped into my soul, calming me. This was my escape. My safe place.

As the birds begin their next chord, I breathe in the floral scent surrounding me. The salty air slips in to tickle my nose once again. The rush of the falls, behind me. The soft grass, a gentle touch against my bare skin, as the mist from the falls sets on me.   

My toes dip into the serene blue, now rippling away to make room for me. I can hear the wind carrying its message, calling me to come join. As it reaches me, gently caressing my shoulder and slipping through my hair, I slip in. The water envelops me in its calming embrace. Cradling me in its arms, wrapping around me like a swaddled child in a blanket. 

The birds, now joined with the wind, sing their sweet lullaby as I come back up. 

This was my cliff. My falls and my pool. It didn’t matter if it wasn’t on paper, the clearing was a part of me as much as I was of it. The birds sang my song. The rush of the falls and the roaring waves were my never-ending thoughts. All jumbled together, swarming in my head. And the cliff and the trees in the forest were my bones. Standing steady as storms waged through me. And all together, whether I needed a calming embrace or some space to clear my head, they completed me. This was all me.

The world could go to hell and it’d be okay. Buildings could crumble and fall like dominoes. Fires could rage to burn away the evil of this world. But it’d be okay. As long as I was in my little haven, safe and tucked away. It’d be okay.