Further – a story

had the germ of this in my head for a few days and had the time at a comic con i was vending at today so i wrote it. 

Further.
Out past the first marker that tells you that you’ve made it fifty feet from shore, arms starting to ache vaguely as I close my eyes and go under.
Below me a world of cold darkness filled with shadows that flit in and out of sight.
When I had gotten in my car and had driven the hour to get here I wasn’t sure what I was looking for exactly. Both heart and head were filled to the point where it felt as if my head would simply crack open and reveal everything I had been feeling, fighting, and running from for so long.
I drove in silence, forcing myself to listen to my mind and pushing through the brambles to get deeper, to what lay beneath.
Further.
Past the second marker, out to seventy-five feet and my muscles are starting to ache and legs are starting to burn.
I stood staring at the lake for a half an hour, shoes off and toes in the water, thinking of summers spent here with camp, then when the camp closed the times a few of us former campers had snuck out here to pass joints and ghost stories. The nights ended with the group of us pairing off and making out and exploring one another’s bodies. Thinking of how Mike and Eric discovered more of themselves than they did of one another during a game of truth or dare.
Thinking about these things and hands, face, and heart burning with it.
Those first pangs of desire, love, and loss.
The mournful song of the unrequited echoing through the years.
And then I smiled.
And then I laughed.
Thinking of the ‘First Time’ out here and how clumsy and awkward it was.
How stupid and amazing.
I was naked and in the water before the smile had even left.
Further.
The last of the markers, faded and covered in algae, warned that at this distance there was DEEP WATER, which seemed so strange and silly, as if this was put out by someone’s grandparent to warn kids away.
DEEPWATER!
Arm and legs on fire, chest heaving, head barely above water.
Far, far away from the shore.
My car seeming to watch from the safety of the parking lot, glinting in the sun.
Another life away.
Clouds embracing the sun and the air cools.
The water feels arctic and my breathing is labored.
Memories came like a death march, one after the other to remind me of every failure, failing, and loss, and scar. A parade of my failures and evey love lost.
At the end came a final blow, the fatal blow that was still hot to the touch.
I looked up to the sky and saw the clouds part and as the sun returned I dove.
Deeper.
I saw the line that anchored the last warning and ran my hand along it as I descended., the chain slipping through fingers and against my palm.
Deeper.
I felt fish brush past as my body shivered from the cold of the water.
Deeper.
Past the parade, past the death march, past the echoes of the past to the plains beyond.
Deeper.
Past the poison and into the darkness where anything could be waiting.
Deepest and my hands find the muck and marl at the bottom, the rot waiting below, and I thrust hands into it and push against it as hard as I can.
Up.
Past the fish.
Up.
Past the chain.
Up.
Past the past to the empiness that hides in the gloom beyond. A world waiting to be made. A future waiting to be claimed.
Emerging and the sun is hidden again but I brought my own light.
Pushing myself foward past the furthest point util my toes find the bottom and they can find purchas and drive me further.
Bottom risng to meet me and wth it a sandbar, a small oasis in the middle of the lake.
A safe haven found in my youth when I had swum out too far during a swimming day at camp. Finding it just when I was at my last. When I was at the end.
Finding this small patch of hope before the last light claimed me.
Emerging and collapsing on that small beach, exhausted and rolling to face the sun.
I let the early summer heat embrace me and swallow air as if I am dying of thirst.
Dying and dead.
Reborn and reclaimed.
The end and beginning, hands held and weaving past into present into future.
A taptestry made of pain and joy.
Tool and weapon, both.
I close my eyes and I am finally alone, nothing behind, nothing ahead, only here and now.
There is only me.
Just me.
My heart rate slows.
My breath regulates.
My eyes open.
I smile.
The end of the world never felt so good and the beginning never felt so scary.
I stood up slowly and stretched and decided it was time to return.

…c…

Author: Chris Ringler

Writer, blogger, reviewer, artist, arts and cultural events coordinator, and semi-professional weirdo. Author of a heap of books from horror to fairy tale to kid's.

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