Light as a whisper, the stream trickles slowly against the delight of tranquillity. Backs flat against rock, skin warms under fervent heat as toes dangle in cooling water. Not a sound sirens outside this oasis, save for a solitary beat of wings above. Five sets of footprints mark the descent to the riverbed; a sanctuary away from concrete and cruelty.
Breathing in dampened air and savouring the gentle brush of mist, the boys hopscotch over stepping stones and recount stories from their past as reflections observe mirrored motions. Looming over sunken debris, the old stone bridge shadows forgotten relics of preceding escapades. Opening to those in search of respite, the elusive refuge is safe from convention.
Leaving the burbling creek behind, veins run hot with release as the woods unlock to reveal wild greens and vivacious fauna. Climbing trees and racing through tall grass, the boys discover pure bliss as a jungle expands before them. Suspended in amber, time is pocketed away until the adventure ends. False kings rule lands of leaves as jesters spring from branches in a charade of performance. Laura Friedli follows their pantomime, capturing Sunday blues amongst forest greens as Audrey Le Pladec styles the boys with bright pops of colour and classic denim jeans to accentuate their emancipation from formality.
As the day drags on, the boys’ exploration of their hidden retreat winds down. An overcast sky brings a brisk chill to settle on skin and seep into bones. Crestfallen with the knowledge that their crusade is drawing to a close, the boys collapse in a pile as the reverie dissolves. Deep in the forest, animals scatter and greenery braces for impact as the boys are thrown back into the clamour of civility. Left behind under darkening clouds, a lost necklace shimmers beneath the rushing stream as payment for the visit. As the boys know: no virtue is free.