It was night, a dark sky wrapped around him like a heavy coat. The water was cold and full of thick weeds. He swam through the cold and the weeds and the night, but it was hard and tiring. The cold sapped his strength and the weeds snatched and pulled at his limbs. He had long ago forgotten where he was swimming to or even why, he just knew he had to keep swimming, never stopping, not once, just swimming in the dark night against the cold, against the weeds pulling at him, swimming always.
Voices drifted past. Someone close. Someone in the water. When had he last heard another person? When had he last seen one? A face flashed into his mind, a handsome man with a moustache, his face shocked as he fell and fell and fell. And the face was gone. The voices bobbed by, stroking, caressing, soothing. He found his arms were slowing, his legs stopping their ceaseless kicking. He didn’t want to swim anymore. He wanted the voices to carry him. He began to look around for the voices, searched in the night and held fast to them, a raft in this endless ocean of night.
The voices were near. A name formed in his mind, long and curving it swam through his thoughts and into his mouth.
The weeds had him! In the water they were grabbing and pulling. The water filled his nose, weeds forcing their way into his mouth. He tried to scream. He was sinking. The ocean taking him down. He tried to fight but he was so very tired. The night tightened around him.
He was glad.
He began to let go of everything.
I have swum enough, he thought. Let the sea and the night have me.
Hands grabbed him, fingers digging into his arms and pulling him upwards. The weeds screamed with rage and clawed at him, but the hands held fast and he was dragged back out of the ocean, out of the night. A light above him, blindingly bright. Voices. Loud voices near.
“…thought we’d lost him then…”
“…are you sure…”
His mouth, thick and heavy with the taste of the choking weeds, struggled to form words. Sounds bubbled forth, incoherent questions tumbling over his lips. The ocean was gone, the night and the weeds with it. Light surrounded him, too bright for his eyes. He couldn’t tell if he was standing or lying, walking or falling. Something cold on his forehead. Something dribbled into his mouth. Hands busy over his skin. Voices all around him.
“…think it’s him…”
The name! His eyes suddenly wide, he sat up, people tumbling backwards away from him. “Jeremiah!” he screamed, his mind burning.
And he fell backwards into the darkness. Not the cloying night of the ocean again, but the dark of a quiet forest where the bows of friendly trees bent to shade and protect him. He felt the kiss of sleep upon his eyes and as he slipped away he sobbed quietly without knowing or remembering why.
To be continued…
All the “Lost & Found” posts can be read here.