The River. The Girl. The Canteen.
I’ve been here for years. Standing in the twilight. Standing in the whispers. Standing in solitude. Being, but not seeing, or hearing, or feeling. Oblivious to the reality around me. Seeing only dimly. Hearing only chaos. Feeling alone. Feeling alone and thirsty. So thirsty – parched. Dying of thirst. No water in sight. Alone.
So thirsty – parched. Dying of thirst. Until she tapped my shoulder. A girl, pretty, I think. She is thin, not too tall – but not short. Long red hair. By long I mean long. I can only see to her knees and it goes beyond there – perhaps it drags the ground. With green eyes. Smiling, showcasing less than perfect teeth. Smiling and reaching out. Her hands seem cleaner than any hands I remember seeing. Fingers that look to be fitted for dancing along piano keys. Instead she’s clutching a canteen. She handed me the canteen.
The canteen is old and battered. In the girl’s hands it is a sharp juxtaposition. In mine it is nearly camouflaged. Made of leather, it is worn. It’s been patched, more than once. Laces hold the seams in place to prevent its contents from seeping out and going to waste. Not a canteen, but a wine skin. A wine skin not carrying an escape from reality. Perhaps the opposite. I drink. In it is water.
Pure and clean. I’ve never seen water so clean. The water is clear. Crystal clear may not describe it right, clearer than crystal. Transparent is just about accurate. If it were not for the sound and the feel of it, it may be invisible.
But I see it now. A whole river of water. I am standing in its flow. I can hear it now too – its calming, reassuring voice. I feel it rushing around my knees. The temperature is just right. Generally rushing river water is cold, springing out of a rocky mountain top or cascading from a melting ice flow, but not this river. Or… Perhaps it is cold and I’ve just been standing in its grasp so long I have become numb to its icy fingers?
“No,” she says. The girl is pretty, angelic, and standing in a rushing river – yet it seems natural. “The temperature is just right. Your senses are awakening. Life is beginning. Your vision is clearing. You will see things as they are for the first time in maybe years. Your ears are opening and you will hear as never before. But, best of all you will begin to feel.” I hear her clearly, but didn’t hear myself ask a question. Did she read my thoughts? “Don’t think about it all yet, for now just observe, adjust, and drink,” she commands, and I comply.