We paused on the platform, but Quinton kept going, through the brush, on to the other side of the marsh. His feet landed rhythmically on the wooden planks, leaving behind a trail of creaks and cracks, a light trembling we felt even when he was out of sight. The water sloshed, it’s dark surface revealing little of what lay beneath, but still we stared, wondering what was staring back.
On either side of the walkway, critters scurried across thick vegetation, camouflaged by dark green leafage, a muddy embankment. They called out to each other with high pitched-screeches, chirps, hisses. And in between swatting mosquitos, spotting muskrats and water snakes, we watched for Quinton, waited to feel his footsteps.
Fifteen minutes passed, and then thirty before we followed the same path, pausing at the tunnel of vines and branches.
“You go first,” we each nudged the other before ducking and then trudging through what felt like a jungle, enduring prickly burrs and sharp stems that made us itch.
“What was that?” we shuddered at the scampering sounds just ahead.
After a moment of fear, the path lead to a wide open marsh. Dark green leaves changed to light green. Red, yellow, and golden brown plants grew in the water; turtles rose to the surface, poking their heads through layers of moss before disappearing again. Quinton stood with his head bowed, his arms folded. With heavy steps and soft chatter, we made our presence known, waiting for him to turn and face us, but he didn’t. He sighed instead, let his shoulders fall.
“Isn’t this great?” he asked.
“It’s okay,” we said, looking around. “It’s kind of dirty…”
“Life’s dirty,” he defended. “We try to sterilize it, make it more palatable, but in the end isn’t it just like this marsh?”
We nodded, not in approval, as a sign we were listening, not understanding.
“We’ll wander from one end to the other…”
“And get eaten?” we laughed.