Her River of Escape
a short story by Alexandra Adams, FLITE ARTIST
It all seemed like a dream, or a vision she would’ve fabricated while sipping green tea; her clammy hands gripping a toasted mug with frustration during a lonesome, stressful night, her gaunt legs pulled against her chest while lounging on the armchair closest to the door, beside the marble windows, which depicted an ideal view of the dimly lit roads, the dozing line of houses... her sleeping neighborhood. Just her and a shadowed trail of steam curling from the pallid, tan surface of her soothing drink, towards the milky cream ceiling, the soft beat of her heart and steady breathing puncturing the silence, her only company, as she contemplated her existence.
She had barely escaped the three bedroom apartment she shared with her mother, desperately tip-toeing across the creaky floorboards of their bedroom, gliding across the kitchen, moonlight spilled across its glistening, sandy tiles, like glowing milk, towards the door, unable to fathom why she was impotent to break through the surface of her anxiety, her discomfort, her nightmares. Thrusting her body outside, she dashed through the vacant parking lot, towards the flaming red STOP sign, her chest burning, frantically, as if a spark had been ignited in one of her bones and had begun to spread throughout her body, aggrandizing unstoppably, like cancer. Overwhelmed, she inhaled, sharply, and urged her legs to form a quicker momentum, a stronger grind, as she spotted a group of workers, dressed in loud, neon yellow uniform, entering their construction site, some carrying toolboxes from Home Depot, others hauling long plank boards over their shoulders.
This moment was a reality, as true as the newborn glob of burnt-orange sun that had begun to peek out from behind the treetops, smearing the navy sky with blissful pink, Canadian geese honking by in intricate formation, a black triangle floating, gradually, through the morning air.
Nothing mattered, as she bolted down the frosted sidewalk, through the dead, lifeless village, passing by the closed shops, and catching brief glimpses of the disregarded flyers and degrading “Lost Cat” signs plastered against the surface of every pole and door...She ignored the unwelcomed cramps in the lower part of her stomach, the numbness of her legs and arms, her sore, throbbing neck, the relentless, frozen wind crashing into the stiff features of her face, drying her quivering lips, flushing her ears into a diluted shade of red.
Nothing mattered, and as she stopped in front of the wired fence, staring, excitedly, at the vast fields, the forest several yards ahead of her, she felt as if the wind were going to sweep her away, like a weightless leaf, and carry her to nowhere, a place as safe and secure as the bed she had left, unkempt, with the blankets ruffled into careless heaps.
She ran, effortlessly, towards the forest, the place that tugged, and pulled on her heart, as if it was a stubborn plug, and laughed, screamed, ballistically, her soul a wild, unleashed Indian, fleeing from its tribe, towards the chance to unravel her internal mystery...the truth to her sorrows...her wonders.
Her lungs felt laden, two balloons filled up with boiling water, about to explode, her crazed, rapid heartbeat thrashed against her ribcage, the frantic rhythm echoing up her throat as if large drums were booming within her body, rattling her brain. Her vision, once blurred, was improved by the strong, baking sunlight, which illuminated her surroundings with a gloss of clarity, glittering the icicles dripping from branches, and revealing the scurrying foxes. Rabbits bounced from bramble to bramble, spraying snow into the air as they shoved their tiny, feeble bodies into the tight, shadowed space, their eyes glowing within the darkness like miniature, golden headlights of toy cars. And as she tilted her head up, her eyes hungry for the chance to view the new, blazing sun, she noticed the sky, cloudless and glowing in a mesmerizing, swampy blue, split into millions of pieces by the convoluted branches of trees, crumbling leaves, like colorful balls of tissue paper, drifting towards the ground, angelically, from the gust.
Finally, she stopped.
Gasping loudly, her body shivered, persistently, with pain, unsure of how long she had been running, frazzled by her stamina. She fell, her rosy cheek, inevitably, making contact with the damp earth, pressed against her skin, as if lying on a soaked towel.
Momentarily, as she rolled onto her back, her eyes drifting up, towards the foggy, blurred triangles of sky, her ears tingled from a quaint sound....an innocent gurgling, like the constant downpour of a faucet overflowing a bathtub. Sitting up, collecting the remaining pieces of her awakened self, focusing, she noticed a large, gushing river a few inches in front of her. As she stood up, wobbling while attempting to gain some sort of balance, she studied the silvery movement of the liquid, the daisies and twigs floating along its restless surface, the colorless reflection of the dancing trees above, and the fish swimming, hurriedly, down the thick road of pebbles, which decorated the bottom, some bright red, others black, a thick swirl of bubbles generated from their parted, fat lips, poping as they reached the surface. Rubbing her shoulder, she sat on the edge and leaned forward, filled with the lust to study harder, to memorize every detail of the streaming body of water, which tore through the forest, fearlessly, leading to nowhere.
She gawked at the plump catfish, the tadpoles, grouped together in clumps of yellowish green, nibbling at the pebbles, and devoured every moment of her freedom...the sulky image of the cramped, discombobulating apartment, her mattress, left wrinkled, and unmade, with the problems she refused to fix, the disasters she avoided to clean up, and contemplated jumping. To dive and swim with the wiggling creatures, to grab a chunk of the pebbles and watch them, gradually, in slow, hypnotic motion, trickle through her fingers, dropping back to the ground. Drunk with the joy of her quest, her mission to forget, she crouched down and disturbed the still surface with her fingertips. The cold surged up her, the fire spreading throughout her body once again, making her shiver, satiated.
Nothing mattered as she stared at her colorless reflection, the tiny ripples floating over the rim of her nose, her mouth, her forehead, her smile...
Nothing mattered. Not the ceramic mugs, filled with steaming, sandy Earl Grey, her secluded area, the furthest spot in her living room, the cushioned armchair, the marble windows, the suffocating, mortifying nights...
Nature wrapped her December, stone-cold arms around her body, squeezed her with a chilling comfort, as she sat on the edge of the river, captivated by the flowing tranquility, the immortal peace... her internal relief.