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(A short story.)

All I really remember is the river of mud. Deep, dark and brown, it gushed forth with a tenacity longed for by most of the people I’d ever met, whether they or I’d realized it before. It was only a deep river of mud, but the stories it told were far too many and vast for anyone or thing to ever account for it.

I sat at the water’s edge. It was, is dark, and the lights from Algiers shine upon its surface. I was depressed, as I often am, and although I’m usually with others and feel their lack tonight I felt only satisfied, if for nothing else to that of their absence.

I saw something floating on the swift waves of the Mississippi. I stood for a second, wrapping my skirts about me. It seemed to be of twigs, but it floated strangely. A raft built of twigs, and of feathers and hair… but no. A voudou dolly?

It was a girl. Seventeen, perhaps. Her hair was spread like Ophelia behind her and I was stopped only by the feeling that there was something sticky on my hands. I smelled rubbing alcohol and metal and am puzzled by the black pool surrounding my head. Am I in the river or is she?

No--I remember—it was she who was insensitive. Young, stupid, callous. It was dumb, was she, vapid and cool to my knowing of her death. She did not believe, laughed at my cards and me when I laid the Hanged Man down in front of her. I was honest, told her of her impending certain death and still, when I knelt at her final hour with the bottle bloody at her death, still seemed impervious to the certain callousness which she imparted to all that knew her. Or seemed to.

My smug smile no one saw as I had carefully placed the bottle down in the never placid waters of the river which consume all but our fears. Fears of being caught? Never. Only the placidity of my own nightmares did I seek in my taking a life not my own.

All I saw were the silencing of my own night-visions which came in increasing waves upon doing nothing in my own shallow life to alleviate the doom which seemed certain for us all. And then, with no real warning that which the newspapers bring, was the death beyond; perhaps that which I’ve wanted to drown within myself would come of its own accord. I brought the rituals, within my own small yet sturdy domain, to bring all convenience and shallowness down.

But what did I bring upon myself in the interim? What loss?

I know not now what to feel: the loss of my own or that of others, drowned by the ineptitude of others or the stupidity of my own lack. Was I really to be completely swept by others’ promises or could I really stand by my own side, unaided? Would someone come rescue me or did I need nothing, inside, only to drown in my own sorrows?

Nothing to answer but time. Time, or this dead body confronting me. I felt guilty, almost, in feeling nothing. What was this one body compared to the thousands whose lives it represented? Did I do one good deed only to be shattered by myself calling to Kali?

I left her body, shimmering and lapping on the shores like my memories of things that never mattered.

She never mattered. And perhaps, neither did any of this.

So I drown myself. In alcohol, and in my own stupid sorrows, and now in the river. It takes all, and I feel nothing.

This is my last message. I leave no other goodbye. I hate and love you all.

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