Upon the finding of the girl in the river I remembered the book I had tossed into the waters many years before.
It was a strange feeling, as was the look of her skin and hair; her fingers gnarled like grey twigs, the bone that showed shimmered romantically in the glint of the noonday sun. The morning had a way of making her death divine, as it lit the water up like glitter and gave her corpse colors that were not there. I imagined that she had been a fair girl, soft and pure in appearance, like that of a pale flower. It was simply the way she laid across the stones—in a kindred sense she too had been smoothed and polished by the waves as had been the pebbles along the bank. The river had stripped her of her clothing, hue, and flesh, but still her body shone and sparkled. Still she glowed with grace under the warm flush of the late dawn.
I sat next to her on the bank for awhile, and I did not disturb her until the day grew hot and she began to dry out like a parched leaf beneath a magnifying glass. With a stiff back, I told her I did not blame her for the smell, and with that and but a slight hesitation I waded out into the swift water, and I gingerly grabbed one of her small feet and pulled her slowly out into the shallows. The river took it’s time with her, as she sank but slightly and than glided like a seed on the wind from view. I stuffed my hands into my pockets, glad that I had not given into the temptation of treating her like a dead forest animal, by prodding her back into the water with the thin branch I had spotted earlier by the tree line. She deserved a human touch to take her, reassure her, escort her back into her clear and moving grave. I stood there awhile; I took off my hat and let my hair fall out. It had grown long since last I met with this river.
Upon arriving my intention had been to weep, let my tears and the riverweed merge once more. Yet instead I found my eyes vacant, staring off into the distance unmoving. For moments I had no thought or memory. It wasn’t until I heard small footsteps over the pebbles that I moved at all, and I looked ahead down the riverbank and saw a young girl in her nightdress clambering over the rocks.
She had the look of a four legged creature. She panted like a ragged dog in cold winter air; her breath gone but her whines piercing. I watched her silently in the light, as from her scratched and mangled hand she tossed a black book into the river, and with a splash it vanished into the dark water. My eyes so unblinking, made the sky blur and dim, as I then witness her dropping to her knees in a fist clenching howl, the painful sound turning to gasping screeching, and like a wild child she held and cradled herself on the rock. I looked over to where the book had spattered into the water, I followed it’s ripples until they wafted against my legs and turned to nothingness. Without motion and without glancing upon her again I listened to her wails. She did wail, she roared, as an internally writhing thing. I listened to her yowl until the sun had gone and the moon rose, a lapse of time I can’t explain. Her appearance made me think of the wolf, her face haggard and upturned, silhouetted against the silver, howling as if she had lost all the stars in the sky. I thought of the yellow glimmer of the river earlier at the dawn. I recalled the memory of the fair girl, pulling her out into the waters, and watching the carcass drift out into the shifting glass of stars. The early warmth of that hour had turned to bitter, breathless night.
I opened my mouth, a fog rising from it and I thought aloud to myself alone in the river, yet, the words remain lost in the infinity of that thing called imagination. I still am uncertain if they had been spoken, or if I had ever even sought such a forgotten dream. But I am certain of the chill of the river, and the petrifaction of my body hairs and bluing of my veins. When I woke upon the riverside, both the moon and the sun were visible above me.
Of all my memories, that is the fondest.