The Living Water
I cut through some trees to a trail and my Mag-Lite catches someone on the sand. A girl, passed out naked on her back. I think maybe her friends have written on her face, like kids did back in high school. And then I see the pictures. A lake on her forehead, streams down her cheeks and nose. She’s one giant tattoo. A waterfall on her chest, rivers carved into her legs, oceans running down her arms. Every square inch of her is water. Her fingernails look like drops of water, almost 3-D.
I shine the light around, don’t see anyone else. No clothes, no bottles, nothing. I say, “Anyone here? Park Police.” I buzz for backup and go to touch her shoulder—shake her. My hand feels like I dunked it in the lake. This shiver goes up my arm and all of a sudden I’m back at the quarry when I was a kid. Maybe 17. We’d sneak out and go skinny dipping late, didn’t matter how cold it was. Sometimes we’d jump in from the ledge and sometimes we’d ease in, getting goose bumps all the way up to our chins. It was exactly that feeling. Like I was there.
And then I’m back and I’m staring at my hand, and it’s dry.
It surprises me and I jump back a little bit. The girl is looking right at me, at least I think she is. Her eyes are like a lake that’s so clear it could be a window. And before I can say anything, she screams. But it sounds wrong, not quite a scream. At first it sounds like waves slapping the side of a dock, almost soothing. And then it changes. It gets louder, like a downpour, like Niagara Falls. It knocks me over.
I start to feel wet. There’s water all around me. Somehow I get up again, and there’s water going up my legs. I look down and I’m standing in water almost up to my thighs, and it’s going up and up, fast. I can’t feel my radio, I can’t yell, I can’t move. And then I can’t see. I’m staring into a sheet of rain.
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