The day was foggy. Dense, but a light white blanket was covering the sharp, cold crystal surface of the calm river. Everything around him was so peaceful, while the skinny man in a dirty shirt broke that peace and harmony with his paddle. It seemed like that. But his moves were deaf like the ice of the north. Nothing could ruin the sleep of nature. Yes, he did break the perfect harmony of the ice cold and clean water, but the sound was faint and swallowed by that mighty calm of nature.
That man, although a new arrival, wasn’t an intruder but an integral part of that harmony. Something that makes the whole scene complete. He belonged to the lake and the woods and the lake and the woods belonged to him. One without another couldn’t survive. The smell of the sharp, cold air entered his nose and gave life to his spirit. A little bit anxious and maybe traumatized, feeling that air, he was full of energy.
All pale, with a face so serious, framed with icy blue eyes, he definitely seemed like an ice man, a very cruel person who could harm someone in a blink of an eye. But Kirk Simon was a much more complicated human being. Touched by a few grains of dust, he stepped off the old boat and visited a well known part of the area. He gazed at that same pine tree he once visited each day.
His face had the traces of carefully hidden pain as he touched one of the branches. That one was special. It was long and old, from the day he saw this place for the first time. He touched the exact place where the tree was damaged. Very carefully, like he was afraid of something, like he didn’t want to open old wounds. Like he was afraid the tree will be hurt. His face was wooden. Nothing revealed any of his feelings. Deadly serious as that, he stopped there for a moment or two, and then, continued his voyage. He would probably have taken a step or two if he hadn’t heard some bird.
Then, he remembered that day. Five years ago. He was walking in the woods one day and heard a pigeon. Or a raven. Kirk didn’t know. He was very bad at identifying birds. He hated birds, especially since a few vultures attacked him when he was a kid. He exactly remembered the smell of mud that day. That pungent smell almost made him vomit. Today, the smell was the same. Like the day when he saw her room empty for the first time. When she left forever. The fresh, dark green leaf in the mud now looked so beautiful, so innocent. Just like she was. A girl with a beautiful smile. And simple. Honest. Kirk was afraid of that empty room. He missed her beautiful smile terribly. And then he got his first serious mission. Going undercover in occupied Germany shaped him. Completely. He enjoyed having control over the Nazi circle in some village. It was entertaining to ruin them without mercy and without even letting them know who the guilty one was for their doom. And now he’s back.
“Are you a coward?” He heard some voice.
Hidden behind the bushes, he saw three boys, aged ten or eleven. One of the two older tested the courage of the youngest.
“No.” Replied the younger one although the fear was obvious in his voice.
“My grandma says there are ghosts here. Three men from Warlynde Avenue.” Started his story one of the older two.
“I don’t believe in ghosts.” said the youngest.
“Really?” The older one teased him. “Why don’t you look in the bushes then?”
Kirk, who was hidden in the bushes, slightly stood up and maliciously smiled. The older two boys were so afraid of the dirty- faced Kirk, that they ran screaming.
“Are you a ghost?” Asked the youngest boy who was fearless.
“What do you think, boy?” Kirk asked.
“No, you’re not!” Said the boy very firmly.
Kirk smiled. His eyes had an icy glow.
“You’re right, boy.”
“But, why are the people afraid of you?” Asked the boy again.
“I like daisies.” Kirk answered and laughed, staring at the distance while the boy left in wonder.