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At the Water's Edge
I remembered I had been somewhere else, before I had been here. It had been warm, much warmer than this.
Why was I standing at the water’s edge? I stood there and tried to remember. There must have been some reason I came down here, to the edge of the water. Some desire or necessity must have compelled me. I must have left the place I was and come down here, where I now stood, for a reason. There must have been some purpose in my coming here. I wouldn’t have left the place I was on a whim. I tried to remember what it was. I looked down: I was just inches from the waterline, such that the water nearly lapped up against the soles of my shoes. My reason for coming must have been something to do with the water, I thought. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be standing so close. The idea seemed correct, but it didn’t help me remember why I had come here. I had hoped it would, but it didn’t catch on anything or jog anything loose. It just floated around in my mind inertly, like a dead jellyfish. I was disappointed. Still, it made my situation much simpler, if I had come down to the water’s edge to do something with the water. There was only so much I could do, and surely if I did it I would remember. I looked at my hands to make sure I wasn’t holding anything. I wasn’t. There was nothing in my pockets, nothing attached to my belt, nothing looped around my neck or hidden in my mouth. I bent down and put my hands in the water. I kept my feet on shore. The water was only a couple inches deep here, right at its very edge. At some times of day it might not be here at all. I couldn’t say. The water was cold and silty. I could feel lots of particles in the water. Billions of particles. That was all. I felt nothing else. I stood back up. I felt my hands dripping. The droplets fell onto the ground. I bent down again. I got down on my knees and reached my hands into the water again. I reached farther out this time, where it was deeper. My wrists were submerged. My whole hands were wet. I could feel the water flowing around them, and all the water contained. I cupped my hands beneath the surface and then lifted them up. I watched the water cupped in my hands flow out through my fingers. There were so many little gaps and crevices. It all flowed out and back into the water. I dipped my hands in again, and raised them again. I opened them and let all the water fall out, before it could run away by itself. It splashed back up at me. I felt it on my arms where there had been dryness before. I made my arms straight and pushed them into the soft ground beneath the water. The ground sloped away. Some of its granules came up into the water where I had disturbed it. I cupped my hands and took the water with the ground in it up out of the water. I brought it up to my face and closed my eyes, then I threw it across myself. I felt the wetness of the water with the ground in it on my face, slightly rich and bitter. It felt like a mask that was on the edge of disappearing, but still clung to me, and in so doing still distorted me. It distorted me just for another moment, still. I stood back up. I saw the knees of my pants were dirty. My hands were wet, as were my face and eyes. I tried to remember why I had come down to here, at the water’s edge.
I noticed there was a ship beside me. An enormous oil tanker. It had run aground and tipped on its side. I went up to it and climbed on board. I scaled the deck on a rope that had come unwound, like a mountain climber, and opened a door to a stairwell leading down below. I walked along the walls of narrow corridors half full of murky water, climbing up and down waterfalls, until I found my way to the Captain’s quarters. There I found a lamp still burning on a desk, and a cigarette still smoking in an ashtray. I remembered I had been somewhere else, before I had been here. It had been warm, much warmer than this. I remembered it was a place I could never go back to. My clothes felt like a second skin. I realized I was soaked to the bone. I could see the sun going down through the porthole.
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