Splash! One second, floating on an old pulled-up wharf piling, the next, rolled under it into the salty turning tide of the river. The motion of my body hitting the water pushed the log clear, and the cold water hit like a jelly-fish stinger.
I could see the dapply-ripply sun above, and the rocky, weedy bottom slipping under my feet. I reached my arms and hands upwards as if I could grasp the air. I was sliding sideways; my heels could find no purchase on the eelgrass.
I was drowning. In the river than had been my blood from birth. The river that great-grandfather sailed his schooner on. The river our dead lay buried by, I would be now buried by.
What I remember is the calm I felt. The strange otherworldliness of knowing I was dying and there was no panic, no pleading. My fingers stopped grabbing for the sun, my toes for the bottom. I just floated below the surface. Quiet. Still. Then.
Another shock went through me like a jellyfish stinger. One last push to plant my feet. One last thrush with my head and torso spiraling upward.
I broke the surface, sputtering, coughing, spitting salty water. When I twisted under the old rotten log, or maybe my attempts to find bottom had pushed me towards shore. The water reached now below my chin, not over my head. I could walk to the gravel beach where my friend, oblivious to my drama, was listening to the radio and sun-bathing in her new bikini. She laughed at my bedraggled, be-rockweeded self still spitting salt water. “Damn you, Rhonda, I nearly drowneded!”
© my frilly freudian slip