Reads: 186

There’s nothing but cold, grey light all around. Before and beyond. As above, so below. Empty. And cold, so cold. Like ice pressed against his naked flesh. But he’s not afraid. He floats in it. It’s in him. He breathes in a lungful and realizes it’s water. Salt water. Ocean.

There's a warmth there now. Spreading out from a hole in his shoulder. No, heart. The water flows through him. In the back, out the front. As it exits his chest the water turns pink. Then deep, deep red. Finally, everything fades out and he thinks that it isn’t so bad. There’s no pain here. Nothing at all. He smiles.

It’s like when they were young, in the harbour by the wharf at home. Home. Floating belly up on the swells and feeling the ocean breathe beneath your back. Slowly in and slowly out. Your ears beneath the briny lens you sense and tingle in reply as distant murmurs echo from the bottom of the world, a million miles deeper than your mind can comprehend. You’re drifting further out from shore and you know nothing will hurt you, but sharks and darker things lurk in your shadow far below. Gulls, eagles cry above it all – doubleyous on pillars of air. So high your eyes begin to blur and not from salt or sun. And you exhale. And you sink below. Down down down and all around you everywhere the shafts of sun like pillars stand. Solar architecture. Light in solid form. Reach out and touch it if you dare, but don’t look down. Not ever, not down. Down is where the coldest water lies and sunlight dies and in sinking inky blackness nothing moves or loves or dreams. You won’t come back from there.

Throw back your head and laugh and you will drown.

“Fucking shit.”

The truck snaps across the potholes and Al’s head cracks against the window, waking him. Millie look over, apologetic.



They race along the highway, still. By now the haze of heat has dulled and the mirages on the road are few and meagre. The sky broods beyond the clouds in hues of angry orange and violet. The air crackles with electricity. A summer storm. They stop at eleven in the Codroy Valley as the first few bombs of thunder drop. It’s darker now. They sit in the diner and sip their coffee while the mountains send javelins of lightning into the clouds. Al grinds his teeth in the bathroom as he peels the day old bandage away and presses a new layer against the wound. The mirror’s cracked. His phone starts to ring but it’s a number he doesn’t recognize so he leaves it be and leans against the sink for support as his vision fades in and out.

It starts to rain outside. The drops pound into the sun-baked asphalt and microscopic clouds of dust are driven to the air. The smell of sand and ground glass and soil overpowers all else. The parking lot dissolves into a shallow pool and a man with his hood pulled up stalks the diner window up and down, surveying the scattered folk inside before disappearing into the storm.

Submitted: June 01, 2017

© Copyright 2021 keithdaniels. All rights reserved.


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