It’s been far too long since I’ve been writing, and even longer since I’ve posted anything here. National Novel Writing Month is over, though, and things are settling into place in this corner of the world, so my intention is to pick up flash fiction with some regularity again, and once again make it visible.
In that vein, this week’s Mid-Week Blues Buster prompt finally got some creative juices stirring.
My eyes open to a world of green glow and shadow shattered through with cracks. The sound of running water helps bring a relaxed feeling of floating or falling, peaceful and calm. The moment is ruined, though, as a curl of acidic smoke replaces serenity with urgency. As my mind struggles free from the daze, the last few moments come back to horrifying realization.
The winter afternoon looked like something straight out of a holiday movie, just after a storm had come through. Nathan and I were returning home after finishing our shopping, with the last few hard to pick gifts nestled in the trunk of the car. Road crews were diligently clearing snow and ice, but had only just begun their efforts. Nathan was confident he could drive through without waiting. As we started to spin on the frozen bridge, his confidence seemed clearly mistaken. After a moment of defying gravity, the sluggish river below parted around the car, gulping it down.
Nathan shakes me again as the window breaks, sending an icy stream of water down the neck of my sweater. I try to answer him, to tell him that I’m all right, but only grunts reach his ears.
“I’m so sorry. I’ll get you out of this.” he says, unbuckling my seatbelt.
I see the water level rising in the car, and my ears pop from the pressure changing. Nearly half of me is submerged, but instead of feeling cold, there is stabbing pain like a thousand tiny teeth tearing my flesh. Nathan kicks out the pieces of shattered windshield and pulls me out of the car. It drops away from us silently, belching defeat, holiday ribbon, and takeout containers on the way to the river bottom.
Holding my breath, I try to swim, but my arms and legs float uselessly. I’m so tired that I wonder if this is all just a bad dream, and if I go to sleep in the dream, I’ll wake up home by the fireplace. Light streams through the water, slowly brightening and highlighting Nathan trying to reach the surface, dragging me by the hand. “Isn’t love supposed to lift you up?” I resolve to ask him later. Today, it seems that my love is heavy, and is only dragging him down.
My lungs are burning, and I know that I’m not supposed to breathe, although I can’t quite remember why. Nathan’s exertions are slowing, and bubbles are coming out of his nose in a helix of air rushing for freedom. As the light starts to dim again, I realize that he never let me down. He never let my feet touch the ground of the river, though I was too heavy for him to escape the icy grip of the river.
Those are my last thoughts as the darkness and sleep take the pain away, and we drift together into the deepening chill, cold as the grave.