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Death and Life in the River
There is a bridge, and a car driving slowly across it, and a driver, whose head is spinning with vodka and misery. The car stops and she steps out. She does not stagger. She will somehow manage to hold herself together in these last few moments. She walks to the edge of the bridge. There is a small rail, and past that the night, and a long straight drop into the river.
There are so many ways to do this. A bit of hemlock. A twisted rope. A well placed knife, or bullet. But for some reason she doesn’t quite understand, she’s come here, to the water.
She remembers a time, years and years ago. She was just a kid, trying to keep up with her brothers as they swam up the creek by their parents’ house. She slipped, and the current dragged her down, down and away. She kicked and fought and screamed, but no sound came out, only bubbles, and water gushed into her mouth, her throat, her lungs.
They managed to pull her out. They said she hadn’t really been under that long. They said she would be fine. But she never stepped in the creek again, never did catch up to her brothers.
And now she stands over another river. She is a thousand miles away from that ill-remembered creek, but to her it’s all the same water, water that hates her, would kill her instantly if given the chance.
“Fine then,” she whispers. “Finish what you started.” And she climbs up, over the rail, and with all her strength jumps.
And away the current drags her, away from the bridge, the car, the road. Away from the life she is so desperately fleeing. But somehow the water doesn’t drag her down, and she can still feel that life pulsing sickly in her throat. Angrily, she tries to duck her head, tries to go under, tries to enter into the wet embrace of death.
But the river won’t let her. The foaming water somehow conspires to keep her head level and high. The river refuses to kill her. Refuses to let her die.
And finally the current pushes her to the jagged, rocky bank, leaving her there to shiver and shake alone. She stands up wet and cold. The warm haze of the vodka is gone, but the misery is not. Hugging herself, she stares at the river.
“Damn you,” she whispers through chattering teeth. “Damn you.”
And, head held high, she stumbles back towards the car.