Swimmer

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            She went for a swim. When the sun was high and vicious and scalded the ground she walked on, she went for a swim. There was nothing else to do, no one else to say good day to, nowhere else to go but where the water soaked the air clean through. Where the dark grey-blue surf flung mist like fog into the sky, dashed headlong into the cliff ledge made of rocks that left streaks of charcoal on her skin, she went for a swim. She did not jump, or dive, or free-fall until the water rushed up to meet her faster than she dropped to it. No. She stepped. There was something almost dainty about the way she stepped.

            She stepped into the water that spiralled around her ankles and darkened to black by the charcoal that stained her soles. And she stepped again. There was something dainty about it, about the way the darkness whirled in the water that swirled silkily around her legs, her waist, her neck. And then she swam.

            She swam in broad moves, until her heart beat in time with her strokes, until the water that rushed around her ears matched the pulse of her blood. She swam until the bank receded to a sliver at her back and then she kept swimming, until it sank below the curve of the earth. She swam, swam until ink leached into the sky, until the sun set and the moon rose and stardust blew across the sky on the wind and swooped so low to the sea that the mist sparkled and she could no longer differentiate between the sea’s breath and the wind’s and hers.

            She swam and she swam until she forgot- how to walk, to speak, to hear or see or feel, to do anything but swim and she swam still. She swam until the water flooded her mind, until the words floated away on the tides, until she could not call them back and she could not remember why she never wanted to. She swam until, when at last she looked upward again, the world was in that hazy era between slumber and wakefulness, when the moon sat on one horizon and the sun on the other and she could not tell if it was dusk or dawn.

            She swam until an unknown world emerged from the water before her, at once immersed in such homeliness and strangeness that her forgotten heart thrummed, her long frozen blood splintered, ice shattered through her system and the water at once became frost, encrusted on her wrinkled skin and her soul rebelled at the familiarity of a home she’s never seen. She swam until she stopped and felt the sand beneath her feet and there was nothing dainty about the way she stepped.

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