by Sadie Miller
E looked out across the river. The sun shining across the surface made it look blue and inviting, but E knew that beneath it was thick and green and sludgy, a tangle of weeds that wrapped themselves around your legs and pulled you irresistibly downwards.
E stared out into the middle of the river. There was a branch, crooked, pointing out at an odd angle like a broken arm. There had once been a tree there once upon a time. Now there was only one spindly finger raised from the blackness of the pooling current.
E’s best friend had died when they were children. But of course all her friends were dead now. Soon her memory would evaporate completely. The doctor had given her six months of lucidity before the veil of darkness would descend. Her daughter had looked at her with panic, her skin white and tight across her face. She was looking more and more like her father every day.
E had even forgotten her own name. Not quite, it clung to the edges of her memory, fading in and out like something rippling under water, visible but blurred. Her late husband had always called her E in any case, so there was no need for her to worry. No one called her by her full name anymore, not even the doctors. It was always mum or nanna or Mrs. She would soon be with him again, her late husband. He could remind her.
E thought about her best friend all those years ago. E had had a husband, children, and even other friends, but there had never been a bond quite like that between the two of them, especially that summer. It had all been so different, not like it is now, E thought. There hadn’t been so many men to go around back then. There had been a war that had broken people apart. Those that had come back were never quite right again. They were missing something, an arm, a leg, their mind. He was the only one for her, the only one she could ever have wanted, the last good man left. It was no surprise that they had both wanted him. It wasn’t like it is today E consoled herself, when two girls fought for the fun of it over a man, like it was just a game. There had only been him. There was never any choice in the matter.
E’s eyes swam with tears. Did it make it all right that he had grown up to become her husband? She hadn’t made her best friend show off, but then perhaps her silence made her complicit in the act. People had always spoken about her best friend through the years both before and after, she was always in everyone’s thoughts. She was more alive than any of them. She had wanted to show off to him, that was just her style. They had always lived beside the water, she should have known better. E shook her head sadly.
E got to her feet, the weight of her own body making her legs shake slightly but her resolve was as hard and cold as steel. It was the right way to go, to see her again, and to experience her death for herself. After all she wouldn’t remember it anyway. One painful moment soon passes into the distance like a car on a road.
E wondered if she would see both of them again now, if it would be like it had before, just the three of them. Would she tell her the truth, or would she already know? Perhaps there was nothing, just black water and then never-ending darkness. The water was horrible at first, cold and slimy, but E was soon used to it, as with all things. She heard voices shouting, a man from the bridge in the distance. E let the water close over her head. Above her, the branch continued to point the way, a plastic bag snagging against it. There was a commotion building on the banks, but the water streamed past in a current of purposeful calm.
Sadie Miller’s stories have been published by Gothic City Press, Prole Magazine, and Oddville Press, with forthcoming work appearing in Static Movement’s Shape Shifters Anthology and Black Heart Magazine. She’s a regular writer and contributor for Excessica books, with two novellas available to download and a novel in the works.