Dream Shard(4)

By: Mary Wine

Perhaps not restoration, but at least it was something to do. Some method to try that didn’t include prescription pills. She didn’t mind knowing it was a desperate attempt at regaining peace, so long as she tried something to banish the nightmares that plagued her even when she wasn’t sleeping.

Her heart was beating fast when she made it to the top of the hill. The cabin was forty feet down the bank and the river rushed down past it. Here she could see the massive boulders that formed the waterfall. They were smooth from the pressure of the current and a deep pool had formed from the constant pounding of the water. Waves rippled out toward the shore from where the water hit bottom.

Water could purify.

At least those were the ancient ways. She remembered her grandparents talking about the spirits of nature by firelight when she was a girl. They had been amusing stories then, but desperation had a way of making a person look at myth more closely.

She was desperate.

In so many different ways, just thinking about it made her eyes fill with tears. She rubbed her eyes with impatient fingers. Crying wouldn’t help. If it did, she’d have been far further along the road to recovery.

Tears had been her companion for almost a year.

She laid a towel over a rock and gripped the lower edge of her sweatshirt. Her Miwok ancestors claimed the water spirits cleansed the soul when you stood under white water first thing in the morning.

Well, at least she could decrease her caffeine intake because there was no way she’d still be half asleep once she stepped into the water.

It was a plus, a positive result.

She sat on the rock to unlace her boots and used it for balance as she stripped off her socks. She shrugged out of her pants, rubbing her arms as goose bumps covered her bare skin. She looked around one last time before unhooking her bra and pushing her panties down her legs. There was no one around for miles, but she still felt exposed. Why did the stories from her childhood all include casting off the clothing of civilization? She didn’t ponder the question long. If it gained her a casting off of her unsettled thoughts, she’d skinny-dip in front of a news crew.

She was desperate, plain and simple.

The gravel lining the shore wasn’t sharp, but she still placed her feet gently down on her way to the shore. The first contact with the water sent a shiver across her skin. She kept going because there was a strange, mesmerizing pull coming from the sound of the rushing water.

It appeared clean and nurturing. She sucked in a deep breath as her nipples beaded and the clear mountain water covered her thighs. She used her hands to help make it deeper into the water, until she had to start swimming. The sound of the falling water was deafening now. Spray covered her face as she neared the center of the drop zone. Her feet touched stone and she climbed up onto a submerged rock.

The water fell down on her, disturbing her balance with its force. But she shifted her feet to find a better position and stood up straight. There were a million bubbles trapped in the water. They slithered down her bare skin as she drew in a deep breath and closed her eyes. The roar was so loud, it felt like even her thoughts were being overwhelmed. It brought her relief from the doubt, guilt and anger that had been constant companions for the last year. Even the chill became welcome.

She wasn’t sure how long she left her eyes closed. The golden glow of sunlight made her open them. The sun was stretching its rays over the peaks in the distance, the light looking promising.

She sighed and jumped off her pedestal. It felt like the water caught her, welcoming her in a way she’d hoped for but hadn’t really believed possible.

The first genuine smile in too long curved her lips as she swam toward the shore. As she neared it, the water’s roar diminished. There was a gurgle and then a huge splash that sent a wave over her head. She sputtered and turned around. In the center of the pool a body floated. She blinked, shock holding her still.

But not for long. A decade of being an emergency-room nurse switched on instincts that had been drilled into her from countless hours of needing to respond. The ten months she’d been on medical leave hadn’t seemed to have let any rust grow on her skills. She reached for a hand and yanked the man toward her. Her fingers found his wrist and pressed into the chilled flesh in search of a pulse. She pulled again, stretching toward the bottom of the pool to reach ground.

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