A fiction piece by Andrea Davenport, Senior English Education Major
Her throat aches. Her chest breaks. Heavy metal palpitates in the bulbs of her ears, echoing the screams she left lamenting in the rotting cavity of her soul.
Her aching moan surrenders to the desperation that claws at her lungs. Suffocating, sinking in a lashing stream. The palms of the waterweeds grip tight to her calves, groping, swinging her boneless body below the belly of the torrent.
Sharp silence grazes the waving molecules, contrasting the sour shudder that passes through her soggy form. She feels her muscles begin to sever, allowing the ghost of who she once was to excoriate her bones.
Her ghost reaches forward, fully detaching. It dallies to shore, paddling leisurely across the rapids, leaving her loose limbs still stuck in the seaweed.
“Wait! Don’t leave me!” It doesn’t turn around.
A strangled wail releases from her gut as she slaps the water, trying to get it to come back. She throws her fists, wrenching her legs, attempting to free herself from the foliage that’s haunting her.
“Come back! I’ll change, I promise! Just come back!”
She watches as it finally reaches the sandy surface and climbs to its feet. With a shake, it abandons the droplets that cling to its pale skin. Its sodden hair waters the weeds that litter its feet.
It digs its toes into the soft surface and sighs.
Heaving as water touches her tongue, her lower body flails. The now taut grasp of the creeping plants laughs against her skin. The water elbows her ribcage and clamps its webbed fingers about the threads of her throat. Needles violate her carotid arteries; she whimpers.
“Please. Don’t leave me.”
Misty shadows begin to waltz along the water, weaving through her shaggy hair. Her murky brown strands drift gracefully among the now gentle stream. The silence no longer sharp and her shudder no longer sour.
She floats deftly with her arms held to the sky, worshipping the silence of separation that strangles her stomach. She lets go, closing her dull blue eyes and mourning quietly into the stillness it created.
It stands watching, basking in the distance between it and the girl who wanted to be different. It lolls its head, its heavy hair falling to the side of its frail collar bones.
Timid, strong hands fall on either of its shoulders. It withers slightly. Glancing over, it sees their parents, both the ghost’s and hers, hovering close to the scapulas on either side of its spine. Protective. It smiles delicately and returns its bright blue stare to the thing it abandoned in the trickling tide.
Their parents nudge the shadow of her and hook their arms through its elbows, signaling it to step away from the shore and into the hard dirt. The three shift directions, their backs to someone it no longer recognizes.
It catches one last glimpse of the beautiful bloated woman in the water.
“I’m sorry,” it whispers.
“What did you say, honey?” their mother asks. “Is something wrong, darling?” their father asks.
“Nothing,” it smiles. “I’m glad you’re back,” it says.
Her ghost peers down at their moving feet making strange shapes in the fog. The grass tickles. The greenery should be greener with how much dampness surrounds it.
A tear tumbles onto the not-so-green grass and the grip on its elbows constricts. It feels crushed by the heat that envelops it; it should feel warm. Its bones shrink further the farther away from the floating woman they go.
Her ghost is confused by the sudden pressure punching in on its pretty cage but their parents are smiling, so it must be alright.
Hair follicles sharpen their nails into her ghost’s scalp, the length suddenly feeling too heavy to carry. It asks their parents but they say it looks long and healthy and it shouldn’t be cut.
But now its feet feel too big and it stumbles. Their parents smile wider and hold it up saying, “your hair carries the heavy weight of love and your feet grow with familial passion.”
Suddenly it can’t walk on its own anymore. It shakes its head, wetness soaking its cheeks, but their parents just smile. Her ghost is their favorite child. They wouldn’t do anything to harm it. So it must be alright.
It isn’t her and their parents smile. So it must be alright.