January 17, 2013
He walked down to the sea, the lake, the river, whatever it was. The water flowed sideways and away from him. So many years of dwelling within earshot of water and yet he didn’t know if it tasted of salt.
Often he had seen the other side, it being at times mountainous, or a twinkling cityscape, or the severed edge of absolute horizon. Most days shrouded the view and made him doubt the span and depth of his own vision. Low clouds above an ocean, or ancient trees sheltering a forest stream? The mind plays tricks if you let it; he accepted that and took it into consideration.
Dark wetness chilled his bare feet as he squirmed his toes into the bed of stones and silt. Experience taught him that the water’s depth increased precipitously just a few meters from the edge. How he had floundered during that lesson: thrashing around and wailing when the world of solid things vanished beneath him. Today he didn’t know whether or not the water was a salty brine, even after having swallowed and vomited so much of it. Those tricks again. All he had to do now was stoop down and cup his hand. Bring the water to his lips. Sip a little of it. He could not.
Looking to his left and then to the right, he ventured further into the flood. The water had become calm, its only motion prompted by his feet. Rings pulsed outward before the stillness reabsorbed them. With a practiced movement, one of several he had studied and refined for days, he waded forward again. The ripples continued their choreography well below his knees.
In the interest of science and defense of free will, he extended his arms outward like Jesus on the cross and strode into the abyss. Another rehearsed move that had played over and over in his waking and sleeping mind. The risks were considerable. His only route back to dry land was through the black gulf below. He didn’t cry out or struggle this time. The water opened and closed around his skin, receiving him.
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