Adrift

Woman underwater in swimsuit
Photo by thewavephotographer on Unsplash

Beatrice wades into the pond, feels herself shrinking—limbs, waist, fingers, her swimsuit threatening to slide off her body into the clear, shallow water. She first noticed this lessening when the arguments began, those quarrels of no discernible value, other than to erode the trust between them, replacing it with an amorphous cloud of ill-will that resounds gong-like inside her atrophying skull. The water becomes colder and murkier the farther out she goes, and as Beatrice dives under, hoping the drumming in her brain will still in the chill, she feels her wedding ring slide off her withering finger. She plunges deeper, straining to spy it in the algid depths, gropes around the bottom. She senses her windpipe contracting, as if it doesn’t need air anymore, as if oxygen is a luxury from a former time, when she and her husband would bound through the water like paired dolphins, before bursting out again, greedily sucking in fulsome breaths of cool air. Beatrice is jolted back to the present when her fingers graze something metallic and smooth. At first, she tries to grasp it but then opens her palm, allows it to slip back into the sludgy muck as she resurfaces, gasping. She settles onto her back, swimsuit inflating like a jellyfish keeping her afloat. With no more intention than to feel her breath fill her lungs, her heart slow, Beatrice drifts and drifts, her body bobbing in the rippling water.

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