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Runcible Spoon

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The Brave Don't Think

 

Jono follows the half-mile trail around Roundhay Park lake in the slow, busy minded walk that people do; safe and warm in the Sunday summer sun -- watching the cool, flat water silver-shimmering in the soft, easy breeze.

 

The Park is always the same; dog walkers, people fishing, and a few groups laid out bathing in the sunshine.

 

The lake is encased by spacious hills of grass that are interrupted by the woodland as it hangs over half the water's edge.

 

There's people drinking coffee in the Dock Café, and families feeding bread to the swans.

 

Jono walks the lake to remind himself of those romantic strolls he took with his first love. Roundhay lake was the cost effective day out for budding love back then.

 

He stops at every dog, giving them a stroke. Every dog here has a sloppy tongue hanging out of a smile.

 

The dogs and the lake make Jono feel young again. They take him back to when he had curly-brown locks, when his skin was olive-smooth, when his face had a permanent smirk, when life was simple and the music was good.

 

He passes the memorial of a boy who drowned in the lake, and looks straight over the water to the memorial of the boy's friend who drowned trying to save him. This part of the lake is shallower, but full of reeds and other leg tangling hazards. 'Foolhardy,' he thinks, 'how the brave don't think.' He thought for a moment about what he would do if his first love was stuck out in that part of the lake; would he thoughtlessly dive in and risk them both dying? But she was probably married with children now. She wasn't who his memory of her was anymore. After a long stare at the dancing light on the water, he decided he'd probably try to save her, but in hopes of drowning himself to end his pain and depression, to show her she made a mistake, that he was worth something after all, that he was a hero.

 

It was late afternoon and hot. So hot that the air wobbled over distant tarmac. Jono was passing Frisbee-throwing young people near the castle-thingy, they look attractive and happy. He sits and smokes a cigarette, watching their confident inexperience. These young people run and laugh and scream like Jono and his first love had all those years ago. He'd loved since her, but never so deeply. Maybe he held something back, maybe he lost something back then. He sets off around the lake before his dwelling turns to depression again. He finds himself at the other memorial looking back at the previous. He remembers how he brought his first love here to watch the yearly firework display. This side of the lake was pitch-black at night, and they watched the fireworks ripple, mirrored across the lake.

 

He comes to the part where the lake widens, where the undercurrent lurks beneath the water's flat top. There's a man fishing, sat silently annoyed at a young family who are throwing a ball in the water for their dog. The dog is happy, shaking off water and barking for the ball to be thrown again. The young couple's kid throws the ball far across the lake. Everyone watches. It seems impossibly dangerous to all but the dog. Even the kid has a worried look as he learns his first life lesson -- don't toy too much with those you love.

 

The family call the dog's name in a desperate attempt to get it to shore. It's clear the dog can't see the ball, it swims in swirly circles and zigzags. Jono sees the dog start to struggle. As the dog goes under, Jono hears the thud, thud, thud of his feet running. He feels the cool breeze as he soares high. He feels the chill of the water as he dives deep through the flat, silver surface. The undercurrent is strong. He swims with it to reach the dog faster. All Jono can think is how his first love will hear on the news that he's a hero, as he kicks deeper away from the Sunday summer sun.