Rusalka Part 5

“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters”

Benji

When I wake-up my body feels sticky and my feet feel numb. I sit on the edge of the bed, surprised to find the floor dry and wait for the feeling to return through the dull cramp. I look around the room and it echoes vague memories. Far above me a tacky textured ceiling makes me feel dizzy even though it is mundane. I must be hung over.  

I am naked. I am the only one in the room. I can’t hear any other guests or any noise coming from outside. My bag and clothes are here but Daniel’s are missing. There are some bottles of beer and win on the vanity table. No car keys. Do not entertain that thought. 

I throw on what I was wearing last night and half-stumble down the five flights of stairs. I stop at every floor, listening for any other guests. I can’t hear any. There is no housekeeping and on the ground floor the reception desk is unstaffed. The breakfast room is empty, but the tables are laid with white tablecloths, cutlery and coffee cups. When I breathe I can see my breath. Has everyone checked out? The clock in reception tells me it’s 8:51.

Outside the guest house the warm air soothes my goosebumps. On the porch is a plate with a fried egg on it. Two of the friendship bracelets have been left next to the plate. 

The car is where we left it but the town square where we parked is lifeless. Daniel’s bags are on the back seat and the car’s hood is open. The dipstick has been removed and is laid across the exposed engine. One of my feet slides. A puddle of oil is emerging from under the car. I take deep breaths until the creeping panic resides. We’ve probably smashed the oil dish. But I don’t remember hitting anything. I crouch and try to look under the car. I don’t expect to be able to find anything but I do. The oil dish is on the road undamaged and I can see at least two of the screws in the thickest part of the oil. 

Back on my feet I see someone across the square, standing still with their arms by their side, looking straight at me. I brush down my jeans and look again, they are still staring. “Do you know who did this to my car?” I ask. They shake their head but they don’t speak.  

“Thanks,” I say, under my breath. “Where is everyone?” He shakes his head and points toward the river. I take another slow breath. Conclusions are battling for attention in my mind but there’s no reason to think this is Yana or Daniel’s doing, yet. Find them first and check they are OK. The people in this town are starting to scare me.  

I head in the general direction of the river and I see two more figures on the street. Neither of them speaks. They stare silently and point toward the river. 

Daniel

Yana unbuckles her bra, covers her breasts with one arm and uses the other to throw her bra onto the river bank. Then she submerges enough for the water to cover her nipples. The river here is shallow and wide. It seems to be just over head height at the deepest point. 

“It’s a bit late to play coy,” I look around, then slide off my boxers and tip-toe into the river. The water is cool and thick. It dissolves the crusty fluids off my skin and drags the hangover off my muscles.

“I was drunk last night,” she says, smiling through her dishevelled black hair. 

“Oh, do you always have a threesome when you’re drunk?” I wade toward her. 

“That was your idea.” 

“No it wasn’t,” I laugh, she slides her arms over my shoulders and her legs around my hips. 

“I was happy just having you,” she presses her forehead against mine. 

“Oh really, you didn’t seem to be complaining.” 

“Neither did you.”

We stay like that for a while. I hold out my arms to keep us steady. She stays wrapped around me. I feel the little iron-fillings lump of her pubic hair grinding against my lower abdomen with the gentle sway of the river. 

“Stay,” she says. 

“I can’t, I promised Benji we’d carry on.” 

“What if you couldn’t?”

“But we can.”

“But what if you couldn’t, would you stay?”

“Well, I’d have to.”

“Would you want to?”

“Yes,” I don’t know anything about her. “But, I’ll come back.” 

“No, you won’t.” 

“Yes, I will,” I have no idea where we are. “The water looks so black and opaque.” 

“It’s just because the sun is so low. There’s nothing in the water that can hurt you.”

“I’m not so sure,” I smile. Yana looks over my shoulder, I turn my head. Benji is on the riverbank.

“Who broke the car, Daniel?” he asks. What the hell is he talking about? 

“Stay,” she whispers into my ear. 

 I try to ask Benji about the car, but when I open my mouth it feels like a dry, fibrous web is stretched across the top of my throat. I try to tongue it and bite it, but it becomes thicker and muscular. Yana tightens her legs around me. 

“Who broke the car?” he shouts. 

“Stay,” says Yana. My arms are now being held out in the water. I can’t can’t pull them in. Something black has spiraled around them. Yana’s hair.

“You’re an areshole, Daniel. You’re an absolute arsehole.” Benji turns and walks away. 

Yana’s hair is snaking around my legs, planting them into the river bed. “What if you can’t leave?” she asks me. Her eyes are swirling. I want to tell her I’ll stay. I want to scream  that I’ll stay, whatever it takes for her to let go, but the sound is trapped in my throat and vibrates against the web. We are sinking. She kisses me while the water reaches my chin. She releases my arms. I try to grab her. Her skin and hair is slick like oil. The water is entering my nostrils. She grinds her pubis against me hard and digs her ankles into my back like spurs.   

Yana

“What if you can’t leave?” I ask him. He’s too lost in the moment to find words. I grind myself against him. The tip of his heavy, hangover erection brushes my thigh and my buttock. He grabs at my body and hair. He wants to go deeper. I tighten my legs and grind against him harder. His mouth is gasping for mine. I put my open lips over his. I put my tongue into his mouth. His breath is hot and desperate. The water slips over our heads. I lean into his passion. He wants me and I want to give in. I want to let go. Make me whole.

His hands fall away. His mouth slows and locks. His body is limp in the grip of my legs. I pull him closer.

He said he would stay. 

I press my forehead against his. 

He said he would stay. 

I let go. Daniel falls away from me to the river bed. He will not even look at me. I turn away so he can’t see me cry. But he will see the shudders of my heartbreak.  

I lift my head above the surface to find twenty or thirty of the townspeople are on the bank of the river. Many of them are wearing those gaudy bracelets they make. One of them points at me. They are silent but they start tossing small branches into the river. One of them points to a birch tree next to the river. It is overdressed with garlands. Some of them are so long the ends trail into the river. One of them chants in a low grow, “Rusalka’s soul; safe in the tree.” The crowd follows the chant. 

Rusalka’s soul; safe in the tree.

I move closer to the riverbank, they back away, chanting more enthusiastically. 

Rusalka’s soul; safe in the tree. 

No, I deserve to be happy. 

Rusalka’s soul; safe in the tree. 

There is someone out there who will stay with me.  

Rusalka’s soul; safe in the tree. 

They will love me. 

Rusalka’s soul; safe in the tree.

I submerge myself and let the river carry me downstream. Beyond the river’s surface some of the townspeople cry for me to come back, but it’s useless now like half a memory of a dream. 

The river takes me out of the town. The water holds me snug until I reach an area where the bank is covered in long grass. I lift myself up, leaving my feet in the water. Here the river is calm and looks like it has a thick skin over it, like sour milk. A few meters down the river something breaks the skin. A fishing line.

A young man secures his rod, grabs a beer out of an icebox, opens it and takes the long, deep glug of the parched throat. 

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink,” I say. 

He turns, startled, but his eyes widen when he realises my modesty is maintained only by the long grass. 

END

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  1. Pingback: Rusalka Part 4 – Clarke's Fiction

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