Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Flow

Rush hour roar of the flooded river. Traffic of currents and debris. The surface of the water as slick as a windshield - your face wavering in its indifference. Thin trails of mist rising like exhaust smoke. Fallen trees sliding past, slow as limousines.

A little way out, a heron, alert and disdainful, like a traffic warden. Watching the river flow by, senses acutely tuned to the possibility of fish.

You try to catch its eye but it ignores you. You feel trapped. How is this river to be crossed, you wonder. There is no overbridge, no intersection of any sort. You kick your shoes off, advance one timid foot into the flow. The cold rush of the water against your naked toes shocks you, makes you aware of how unprepared you are, how vulnerable. You panic. You draw back.

From the other side of the speeding current the girl is beckoning to you. She seems confused by your hesitation. She is too far away to hear you, so you trace the flow of the river with your hand, then throw up both hands in defeat. She seems taken aback by this, surprised that this should be a problem. She leans over a little, looks upstream. There is no break in the water in sight.

For a while the two of you just stand there, staring at each other, waiting. Like two mirrors distorted by distance. She kicks the grass with her toes. You keep peering upstream, looking for a chance, wanting to demonstrate your alertness. After a while she gestures again, this time raising her hands in a question. What now? she says. Then she beckons to you again. Come on. There's nothing to be afraid of. Come. You shake your head. You repeat your earlier gesture - hand swinging in an expansive curve, taking in the speed of the river, its mighty force, then both hands half raised in the air to say "How can I?". Your helplessness more evident this time.

She is disappointed in you. She lowers her eyes to the ground, shakes her head. You are ashamed. You feel a desperate urge to go across to her. To dive headlong into the river, bisect its expanse with proud manly strokes, arrive dripping at her feet before she has the chance to look up. Your muscles tense, prepare to surrender themselves to the gesture. Your brain says no.

She looks up again. Even from this far away you can see the contempt in her eyes. She shrugs, turns, walks away. As you watch her leave, you think, I could still do it - if I got across right now, I could catch up with her, pretend it was a joke. But you know it's too late. Hope is falling from you, floating away on the swift current of the river like a damp leaf. Once she's out of sight, you sink slowly to the ground, settle down to wait. Sooner or later your chance will come, you know. Sooner or later you'll find a way across. All you have to do is be patient.

With a great flap of its wings, the heron soars away.

After a while, you forget about the girl, about crossing, about where you are. You just sit there and watch the river flow past.

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9 comments:

Anonymous said...

The river in spate is such a wonderful metaphor :)

But then is the river all inside his head?

Adding to the recent comments about your fiction, I'm sure you would have thought about it, but maybe you need more people in your stories?

-RS

pointblank said...

Ah, so near yet so far! :-(

Anonymous said...

Sooner or later you'll find a way across. All you have to do is be patient...here the feeling of hope is evoked in the mind of the reader...and the very next moment...the ending...it just takes it away...as if one moment you are alive and the very next...
anti-climax to such a beautiful story...2x3x7...

Anonymous said...

Got directed to your space recently by a friend.

Interesting look at life and the constant conflict of logic Vs desire in Flow.

Also read a few other posts.
Enjoyed the comparison in Day And Night. :)

A Squirrel's Fall packed a punch, the way it closed..with the reference to God and the ease with which the narrator could quickly separate himself from the disturbing scene just witnessed and the related thoughts.

The Fugitive Resentment In Your Eyes expressed the confusion eloquently, how we keep analysing situations, unsure about what to believe, while we argue all sides of the argument inside our heads - taking turns with easing our doubts with one thought and augmenting them with the other.

Very interesting, all.

~N.

The Man Who Wasnt There said...

I am pretty sure I will retract my statement when you come up with another brillaint post...but till then...this is one of your best posts ever...me not much fan of descriptive writing or for that matter metaphorical ones...conditioned to 'look for logic and content' I have been guilty of ignoring metaphors using the excus that 'it is always open to interpretations as the metaphor is only as good as the reader who interpretas it'.

I may be still right but this one is just brilliant...

Falstaff said...

RS: Thanks. Yes, it is isn't it? Oh, and maybe.

Pointblank: yes. That incidentally is a pretty accurate description of every relationship I've ever been in.

anon (2x3x7): I don't know if it's quite as much an anti-climax. It's not that you don't achieve what you hope for. Just that you stop caring.

N: Welcome. And thanks. Don't worry, soon you'll realise that all my stories are repetitive and say basically the same thing. :-).

girish: thanks. But by your argument the fact that this story is brilliant is to your credit, not mine.

The Man Who Wasnt There said...

Ah but ofcourse I realized that while I was typing it...:) That still doesnt take away anything from my comment...

Anonymous said...

Excellent, love it! »

Anonymous said...

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