The Girl Named Jude

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Crafting a story.

Submitted: December 10, 2009

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Submitted: December 10, 2009

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The girl named Jude stared uncomprehendingly at the page in front of her covered in symbols. She was usually so adept, so creative, but as her head throbbed and vision blurred, her normal sense of control abandoned her. The radio droned monotonously in the background, making as much sense to her as gibberish would, but other than that the air in her empty house was still and quiet. Unable to concentrate on her work, she rose from her desk and turned off the radio. Scribbling a note to give word of her demise, Jude walked down the dark hallway and exited her house.
The sky outside was dismal and grey, early that Saturday morning. The long narrow road to the beach was empty, and Jude didn’t notice when she wandered off the sidewalk into the middle of the road. When she did notice, she didn’t care. The wind blew her brown hair all around her face, slightly obscuring her vision, but she didn’t care about that either. The sound of waves crashing on the distant beach called to her; the cold depth of the lake beckoned.
She felt the cool, coarse sand under her feet immediately, and realized she was barefoot. But, like so many other things in the past few days, Jude didn’t really care. All that mattered was the ending, she told herself. Beginnings and middles of stories meant nothing, because they could start out and go one way for so long, then suddenly twist and rocket out of control, and end up completely different. The ending, really, was also the only thing she had any control over. She could choose the ending, and through the turmoil in her mind Jude could only resolve that the water would be her ending.
But what if there was something else? Some hint that she’d missed? A bad ending always ruined a good story, and Jude didn’t want her story ruined. The beach was large, sand stretching for miles to the left and right, as far as she could see. It was wide, too, as well as long, the road emerging a good fifty meters away from the water. It was also empty, Jude reflected. How appropriately like herself at the moment. She looked around for something else, trying to find anything that might offer support. Nothing. Jude could see nothing, and neither could she think. In exasperation, she sat down on the sand and waited for something to come to her.
The hours passed, though it may have been only minutes, because Jude’s mind buzzed with thoughts; possibilities, explanations, reasons, and many other things all came into her head, though perhaps half of them made any kind of good sense at all. It was high noon when she finally stood and began to stride towards the water. The sand was hot and burnt her feet as she crossed, but she did not quicken her pace. That wasn’t important either. Reaching the water’s edge was a relief; first just wet sand, then cool, clear liquid rushed over her feet, soothing her, banishing the heat from her skin and flesh.
Her arms stung. Her face stung. Jude suddenly noticed that she stung all over, and looking down noticed that her skin was very pink. She was sunburnt. Without bothering to take off the sun dress that she wore over top of her bikini, Jude began to wade further out into the water. It didn’t matter if the dress got wet; it would dry. Slowly she walked onward, and the water reached her ankles, her knees, the hem of her dress. Now her hips and waist were submerged, but she continued to walk. The cold embrace of the water calmed the stinging and eased the hurt of the sunburn on her exposed skin, and its freshness soothed her, made her troubles seem less. Jude wondered if the water could solve all problems this way, as it reached her elbows, then her shoulders.
Then she stopped walking. Only Jude’s head could be seen above water, and time seemed to freeze. She still couldn’t think. Things were going on, and things were happening, but they didn’t seem to have a purpose; didn’t seem to be able to tie together, and didn’t seem to make much sense. Jude turned to the water again, determined to find a solution in its depth. This was the only way, she told herself again. It had to be. She walked out a few feet further until she was no longer touching bottom but treading water, and simply let herself go. She sank beneath the surface, floating in the glorious cool blue silence of underwater. She opened her eyes, and they didn’t sting in the clean freshwater lake, and all around her she could only see aqua. Except when she was looking up, she saw a warped and twisted view of the sky, which was constantly jumping and twitching as the water moved.
Jude needed air. She couldn’t breathe. Her lungs were empty, begging her for air. It was only another moment before she passed out and never resurfaced again...
When she broke the surface gasping, Jude had an idea.
Someone screamed, jerking Jude out of her near-obsessive thoughts. She looked around for the source of the cry, but couldn’t see anyone in the water near the shore. Rubbing her eyes to clear her vision, she squinted against the glare of the sun and peered around.
A family had arrived on the beach when she was underwater. The wind had picked up again and the lake had become a bit wavy, so they probably hadn’t seen her yet, her head being the only part of her exposed above water. The family consisted of a man and a woman, presumably husband and wife, and two young children standing next to them. They too had heard the scream, and now were yelling back.... at the water.
They might have been crazy. There was nobody else in the water but Jude, and they couldn’t see her; she was too far out. But suddenly there was a splashing behind her, and she turned to see a young girl of about seven or eight choking and spitting, and, as soon as she could breathe properly again, screaming her little lungs out. She must have been wading about knee deep or so, and the undertow had got her and pulled her out. Her family on the beach was looking for her. Jude headed over to where the young girl was.
“Sshh,” Jude said to her, “I’m going to help you. It’s okay. You’ll be alright.” The little girl looked at Jude strangely.
“Are you an angel?”she asked.
“Sure,” Jude replied. She turned so that her back was to the child, looked over her shoulder and said, “Now I want you to hold tight to my shoulders, and I’ll swim to shore.”
“But can’t angels fly?” the little girl inquired. Jude smiled.
“Yes,” she said, “But not when our wings are wet.”
“Oh.”
So the girl took hold of Jude’s shoulders, and Jude began to swim. Even with her young passenger, Jude swam effortlessly. She had always loved swimming. She tried to make her strokes as smooth as possible so as not to jolt the little girl. The family on the beach saw Jude when she had come about a quarter of the way, but she couldn’t judge their reaction from where she was.
She concentrated all her energy on getting to shore as quickly as possible, and the distance seemed to melt away. At some point along the way the girl whispered in Jude’s ear, “My name is Amy.” Finally, Jude felt her feet touch bottom.
“Hold on,” she told Amy. “I’ll give you a piggy-back ride.”
So Jude walked the rest of the way with the girl Amy riding on her back, skinny arms and legs wrapped around her shoulders and waist. The family stared, agape, at the young woman coming out of the water carrying their daughter. Jude then realized that she might really look like an angel; barefoot, with her white dress slightly see-through, revealing her pale blue bathing suit underneath, her long brown hair wet and sticking to her skin and clothing, with a few small pieces lifted by the breeze. The sun would be directly overhead, shining down on her and illuminating her lightly freckled face. And it would appear to the family as if she had magically emerged from the water, because they hadn’t seen her before.
When Jude reached ankle-depth, she let Amy down. The girl ran to her parents, crying ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ This seemed to knock them out of their shocked stupor, and they scooped her up, saying her name over and over again. Amy’s brother and sister ran over and hugged her, too. Amy’s mother looked down at her and asked,
“Amy, who was the girl who brought you back to land?”
“She was an angel,” Amy told her mother promptly. The woman looked around for Jude, but she was not there. Amidst all the emotion of the rescue and reunion, Jude had slipped away unnoticed. And look as they might, they family couldn’t find her anywhere on the beach, in the water, or on the road. She was gone.
And as she approached her home, Jude realized that the ending wasn’t the only thing that mattered. The beginning mattered, because if something didn’t start, it wouldn’t exist. The middle was important because it told what happened, and without it, nothing would make sense. All that the ending did was tie it all together and put it to a close.
She sat back and smiled then: the story was finished.
 


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