Friday, March 18, 2011

Underwater Breathing (Part 3 of 3)

I had to find Lorelei. I had to try to talk to her again. It didn’t matter if she was with Cody, because it was my life that she’d saved. Because I could hear her song. But Mom told me school was canceled because something bad had happened.

Cody Detwiller drowned in Willow Lake.

I didn’t know I had the capacity for sympathetic feelings where Cody was concerned. I’d only ever hated the guy, so it was strange and awkward to think kind thoughts about him. He might have been an ass of epic proportions, but he didn’t deserve die. At least, not like that.

The news ran the story on an infinite loop that day. I kept flipping the TV on just to see if they mentioned a girl, but it was the same thing over and over again. Pictures of Cody looking like the wholesome, mild-mannered, home-grown boy he wasn’t, home video of him swimming like a fearless shark, a few shots of the treacherous lake flashing blue and red, and then Channel Seven reporter Cherise McMannis promising details for services and the like as soon as she had them. The words she used echoed my own feelings on the subject: shocking, unbelievable, tragic. And then, scrolling across the bottom, ‘police suspect foul play.’

There wasn’t a good reason to think Lorelei had been at the lake when Cody drowned, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that she was somehow connected. What if she were in trouble and no one was looking for her?

First chance I got, I broke out of the house and raced to the lake. I was halfway there before I realized I was speeding, but with all the cops suspecting foul play on behalf of Cody, all the usual speed traps were empty. I didn’t worry with slowing down. Now that I was on the road, all I could think about were the many things Cody might have done to Lorelei, which only made the road seem that much longer.

By the time the turn off to the lake appeared, my hands were sweaty on the wheel and I was going double the limit. I eased off the gas and turned onto the dusty road that circled the lake. The first parking lot was already clogged with half the cars in town. It was the lot for the main pier and already it was covered in flowers and candles and who knows what else. Must have been where they found his body, but it’s not where I was heading.

The road slid in and out of tall clusters of elm and maple trees, all of them glowing yellow-green in the late afternoon sun. I lowered my window and drove as slowly as I could bear, watching the shoreline through the tree trunks for any sign of her.

I didn’t see her, though. I heard her.

Her mournful melody teased its way through the wind to me. I stopped the car, pulled off to the side where there was just enough room to park and left it there to follow that song down to the shore.

I found her in the water. She stood with her back to me, the bottom of her skirt pillowed on top of the water around her thighs, her pale green hair distressed and reaching out like budding leaves. The light was playful on the little waves around her and she held her hands out as if she wanted to touch the water, but didn’t.

“Summer?” My feet sank in the wet sand. “Lorelei, I mean. Are you okay?”

Her fingers fluttered and I saw a shiver trip over her shoulders. She didn’t speak though, only stared out over the water.

“Did – did Cody hurt you?” I took another step. Water sloshed up over the toe of my sneaker, soaking my foot.

She made a sound that might have been laughter, but was probably a cry and wrapped her arms around herself. I took another step soaking both feet and saw her flinch, so I stopped and waited for some other sign of what I should do.

None came and the water was becoming more and more choppy as if a boat had passed and sent its wake crashing toward us. But there were no boats on the water today, only a few sad flowers and the sinking billows of Lorelei’s skirt as the lake slowly tugged them down and held them under.

“I know who you are.” I said as waves licked at my ankles. “I’ve been waiting for you for – for years.” And when she didn’t turn, I added, “Summer.”

“No.” She said in a voice so full of voice I almost didn’t recognize it as hers. “I can’t do this anymore.”

She turned toward me and that melody was suddenly loud and full in my head. I took three more steps until my jeans were soaked and the lake was getting way too friendly with my crotch. I didn’t care. All I cared about was staying with Summer. I let her music pull me closer until I was near enough to touch her.

“I never should have saved you.” Her eyes were sad, but also something else I couldn’t peg. “You’re a distraction and have been nothing but trouble.”

She regarded me in a distant way, like I were a bug or gum on the bottom of her shoe. And I knew. “You killed him.”

“You make me want to be something other than what I am.” It was an accusation. The melody climbed even higher and I wanted to give her the world.

“I’m sorry.” I said and meant it.

“I’m sorry, too, Ryan.”

Her eyes were full of tears when she pressed her mouth to mine and flooded my lungs with water.

Thanks for reading! Check back on Monday for a new Tangle started by Lacey!
photo via della stock

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