Deep, Black Water
General Disclaimer: The characters in this story may bear some resemblance to characters owned by MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended, and no profit gained by this.
There isnt any explicit sex or violence in this story. I just wasnt in the mood...There is however some mild swearing, so watch out for those bits if youre of a sensitive disposition.
Feed the bard: Speak up now, let me know what you think.....
Exhausted, with her face drained of its habitual tanned colour, Emmeline Day wrapped her heavy woollen coat firmly round her shivering body as she walked quickly along the empty road, stepping aside every now and then to avoid the puddles of muddy water which gathered in the hollows and ran down the cracks in the paving stones. The heavy rain which had thrown itself down throughout most of the day had died to an incessant, moist drizzle, one that seemed to soak right through her warm coat and seep into her weary muscles to set a bone-deep ache in her body. She sighed, and watched her own breath rise into the night, like smoke signals warning of danger.
The rain washed evening left the surrounding streets drab and colourless - the shop fronts, normally so bright and welcoming in the sharp sunlight now looked as tired and as empty as she felt, with their bright displays appearing pale in the pearl grey light. Feeling like she was left behind in the big top as the circus was packing up, she pulled up suddenly, glanced around her as if seeing it for the first time, and muttered to herself.
"God, this is miserable. Pull yourself together, woman! .......I hate late shifts, they always do this to me...."
Deciding to avoid the tawdry main street and feeling the need to find some solitude and open space, she headed quickly towards the park. "I know! Ill take the short cut over the canal bridge - itll get me home just as quick, and the water always makes me feel better....." There was something about watching the whirl of the water as it lapped its way up and down the man made banks, and listening to the gentle sucking noises it made, that she always found soothing. Shed been down to the canal many times over the past few months, and spent many hours just staring into its inky black depths, wishing and thinking, and hoping. And waiting.
She skirted through the little park, avoiding the evening dog walkers and crazy joggers, slowing her pace once she was off the main path an ambled through flower beds and a deserted childrens playground with one swing still moving, slowly rocking its ghostly occupant, and she imagined she could hear the squeals and delighted cries of two small children as their mother and father swung them - their ruddy faces shining pinkly from exercise and excitement.
"Momma, can we have ice cream now?? Can we?" Their voices cut through the air, two high pitched bundles of need clutching her knees.
"I dont know, you two. Youd better ask your daddy.." and grinning hugely when the parent in question was immediately engulfed by two piles of very excited children.
"Oh thanks, Emmy!" Patrick smiled back at her, one child under each arm as they headed across the park and towards the little ice cream parlour which was handily situated at the park entrance. "I owe you."
Blinking rapidly as she felt the rough wood in her hands, she gave the swing a final thrust and grimaced to herself. "Paid me back in full, didnt you, Patrick honey?" She turned, and hurried out of the haunted playground and over towards the canal. Deserted of its summer Sunday traffic, the glinting water absorbed all of the fading evening light, leaving the surrounding area a murky grey whilst the water shone blackly, moving sluggishly in the darkness like a huge black leech and split occasionally by the splash of a fish or insect on the smooth, glassy surface.
She threw a handful of gravel onto the solid surface, and watched the skin break and suck the stones down into its muddy depths, only to reform itself - rapidly fading scars rippled like muscles moving under skin as the water swallowed its meal of stones and grit. Emmy shivered, and marvelled at its ability to heal so quickly and resume its course, so unaffected. "No disrupting you, is there? You take everything we throw at you, yet you always stay the same. So strong. So unchanging. And yet, we made you - and youll outlast the lot of us, wont you?"
Another handful followed, then several twigs - all were gulped without effort. "Wonder what else youve got down there?" The water moved sluggishly, answering only with a ripple and plop as a small fish broke the surface to snatch a tiny gnat from the air. "So much for philosophy!" She smiled wryly then carried on along the bank, heading for the bridge over the widest point of the broad canal. She veered off the grassy path, climbed up the slight slope to set foot onto the bridge, then halted momentarily as she noticed a shadow flickering on the bridge; someone was standing to the side, leaning over the railing and staring into the depths, much as she had been doing.
It was difficult to make out the figure in the rapidly darkening gloom, but it was slight and small, with - she thought - fair hair curling damply around its cheeks and shoulders. As she drew nearer, she could tell it was a woman - or was it a girl? - and she let out the breath shed been unconsciously holding, sensing no danger from the small figure ahead. She continued walking, breathing rapidly in relief.
The shape ahead seemed to straighten its shoulders, then hauled itself up onto the high stone wall which bordered the edge of the bridge and stood there uncertainly for a moment. She took her long overcoat off, and Emmy could see the loose jeans and baggy fleece which covered a thin, well proportioned body. She then bent down and slowly unlaced her sneakers, then placed them carefully next to her coat. She again stood, and shuffled up to the edge.
"What the hell.....? Whats she doing?" Emmy continued walking towards the girl - she could see the clear complexion and young, pretty features as she drew closer - but crossed over to the other side of the bridge. She walked on, her head facing resolutely to the front, not looking in the young womans direction as she passed her. The girl hadnt appeared to notice her, and Emmy breathed a sigh of relief again as she passed without incident. She stopped dead in her tracks when she heard a low and husky voice mutter to herself;
"Ahh, no - thats a better idea....." and turned round to see the little blond bending down and putting her sneakers back on.
Emmy could feel her heart thudding in her chest as she watched the girl straighten again and balance on the edge of the stone parapet. "What the hell....is she....? Dont get involved....nothing to do with you....she cant ......." The girl dug deeply into her jeans and drew out a small fist which clasped a set of keys and some small change. Again, she placed them carefully on her bundled up coat. Straightening again, she covered her face with her hands and Emmy could see her thin shoulders shaking as she teetered on the edge.
"No! Wait!" Emmy found herself standing on the bridge, looking up at the girl with pleading eyes. Green eyes met hers, a shocked expression in them. Oh my god....shes gonna kill herself.....shes gonna jump! What the hell do I do now??
The two stared at each other dumbly for several painful, agonizingly slow minutes. The girl broke the silence abruptly.
"Leave me alone. Go away."
"Umm....." Emmy fought the urge to just grab her and drag her to safety.
"Just go. This doesnt concern you. Walk on by, like you were going to."
"I cant do that....ummm....maybe I can help."
"I dont think so."
"Sure. Uhh...whats your name??" She tried desperately to catch the girls eyes - keep them talking. Scenes from all the films and TV programmes shed ever seen jumbled into her minds eye as she hunted frantically for some inspiration. Silence froze the air around them, and the girl once again started to shuffle forwards. "My names Emmy! How dyou do?" Okay, pretty lame Em, but at least it got her looking at you! She smiled awkwardly into the girls incredulous green eyes.
"Do you mind? Im trying to do something here!"
"Ahh, yeah. So I can see. Hey - mind some company?" She finished brightly, and hoisted herself up onto the parapet, landing heavily alongside the girl and knocking her thick coat over the edge as she did so. They both watched it float over the side and spread out like a huge black swan coming to land on the water. Oh, shit - thats not a good start. "Ah, sorry about....about your coat...."
"What the....what are you doing? Get away from here!" At least itd got the girl away from the edge; shed turned in amazement towards Emmy, who was now sitting on the cold stone and swinging her legs over the steep drop above the churning water.
"Sorry - cant do that. Whats your name?" Yet more stunned silence from the girl greeted the question. She started again, desperately. "Aw, cmon! Look, mines Emmy - Im not going anywhere so you may as well tell me yours."
"Im not talking to you. Youre not gonna stop me...yknow....from..." She nodded towards the water.
"Okay, fine. So when you...ahh...yknow - who do I tell them you...ahh, were? Theyll need a name. Some way to identify you."
"Well, you wont be very identifiable when you....appear, if you know what I mean. Not physically." The girls face was dubious, but Emmy noticed shes backed up a little and was darting nervous glances down to the water. Maybe scare tactics would work? "Dont you know what happens to a body when its been drowned and immersed in water for days? Cos it takes days to surface...."
"What? How do you know? What are you, a ..... cop or a....a mortician or something??"
"No, I work at the hospital. Im a - well, I specialise in blood disorders. But Ive seen a lot of dead bodies......even one or two drownings. Its not a pretty sight."
The girl had crouched down onto her knees and was staring at Emmy intently. "You work in the hospital?" At Emmys nod, she brightened. "Really? I wanted to work in the hospital, but I couldnt get a job. They wouldnt let me. I wasnt clever enough to be a proper doctor, see....and they wouldnt let me work there even though I really wanted to. I wanted to help people, see."
"Thats nice....ahh, Id be happy to tell you what I do. Maybe even take you round there, uhhh.....?"
"Emmeline Day, but you can call me Emmy. Pleased to meet you, Sarah." She held out her hand, and Sarah shook it solemnly. "What say we get down and I take you over to the hospital now?" Emmys brittle smile caused the girls green eyes to narrow and she stood again, her chest rising and falling rapidly as she grew more upset.
"I know what youre trying to do. It wont work! Leave me alone!"
"Oh, come on Sarah! Nothing can be that bad, that you want to throw away your life......"
"What would you know about it?" The girl shot right back, her face taking on a furious expression even though tears ran slowly down over soft round cheeks. "Dont try and lecture me - you know nothing about me!"
"Then tell me about yourself!" Emmy smiled again, and gestured towards the girl. "Help me to understand why you want to do this.....you never know, it might help...."
"Yeah, right - dont give me that talking about it really helps crap! Youre not really interested - why dont you just get lost?" Sarah was crying hard now, her tears mixing with the drizzling rain which dripped off the end of her nose. "Just get lost.......please....." She finished in a small voice, wiping her tears with her soggy sleeve.
"Here - use this. At least its dry." Emmys own crumpled handkerchief was pressed into the wet hands of the girl. Sarah stared at it uncertainly. "Its clean - dont worry. Cmon, sit down and blow your nose." Emmy patted the stone space next to her as the girl just stood there. "Look, Im really not going anywhere. If you want to do this, then fine - do it later. You have plenty of time, dont you?" A tentative nod was her only response. "Fine - until ....ahh, until then, just sit here and talk to me a while." The girl remained statue-like. "Actually, Id love the opportunity to talk to someone myself. I dont have many friends these days, and sometimes I get a bit lonely......"
Sarah sniffed. "You do? Why?"
"Sit down and Ill tell you....." One winning smile later, and Sarah was sitting next to Emmy on the damp stone surface of the bridges parapet, sniffling into the off-white handkerchief clutched between her shaking fingers. "Umm, whyd you put your sneakers back on, by the way?" Emmy asked as she watched the girls feet swinging over the edge.
"Oh." Wish I hadnt asked. "Then whyd you leave your coat off?"
"Oh. Well, it was the last thing my mother bought me before she died. I didnt....well, I knew she wouldnt like it....."
Oh, shit. "Ah, Im really sorry I knocked it over....."
"Sokay. Im not really gonna need it now." Sarah gave a small shrug, and rocked her feet vigorously.
Emmy stared once again at the frail looking girl sitting next to her; she looked so young, and so lost - her wide green eyes were staring into the distance, and her mouth trembled again as she brought up her handkerchief and scrubbed the moisture from her eyes. What the hell can have driven someone like you to want to do this? She couldnt help herself - she reached out and tenderly tucked a dripping tendril of soft blond hair behind a pink ear. Sarahs gaze refocused and she found herself looking into the bluest eyes shed ever seen. She gave a small smile, and blew her nose again. "You have beautiful blue eyes. My momma had eyes your colour."
Emmy smiled back, and tucked her hands into her pockets. "Wheres your family, Sarah?"
Sarah screwed her eyes up, and turned away slightly. Her voice was flat when she finally replied. "Dead. I never knew my dad - he died when I was very young, my momma used to say. He fell under a car and the doctors tried to save him, but he was too badly squashed. Poor daddy."
"Im sorry to hear that, Sarah." Rubbing the girls back soothingly, Emmy could feel the shoulder blades sticking out through the thick fleece. "And your mother?"
"Mommas dead now."
"You said. Im sorry about that too. That mustve hurt very much?"
"I guess. She had cancer, and had been very sick for a long time. I used to take care of her, but then she got too sick and died." The girl turned blazing eyes onto Emmy - Emmy sat back a little, startled at the intensity in them. "But it was a good thing - shes not in pain any more! Nobody should have to feel pain like that - it was for the best! My poor momma....but at least shes happier now."
" Im sure she loved you and was very glad you were there to look after her. Im sure you did all you could for her."
Sarah cast an odd smile in her direction. "You bet I did. Wouldnt you, if someone you loved was hurting like that?"
Emmy smiled reassuringly and started rubbing the girls back again. "Sure I would - anyone would." That seemed to satisfy Sarah; she sighed happily and settled down, and to Emmys surprise snuggled under her arm. "Are you cold?" Emmy felt the girls violent shivering flooding through her body and into her own. At the girls shy nod, she took off her own coat and wrapped it round the thin shoulders, then pulled her back under her arm again. "Better?"
"How old are you, Sarah?"
"Twenty two." Emmys eyebrow rose slightly at the news - shed pitched the girl to be much younger - the way she was talking was almost childlike. Emmy put it down to emotional trauma - I guess wanting to kill yourself must do that. "How old are you, Emmy?"
"Uh...ah, thirty four."
"Do you have a family?"
"Yeah, well.....my parents are still around but I dont see them very often. Theyre a little angry with me, you see." She added in explanation, seeing the enquiring eyes peeping up at her. "Well, see - Im going through a rather nasty divorce at the moment, and theyre annoyed because of it. They dont agree with divorce, and blame me for the break up."
"Oh. That must hurt you a lot? Why do they blame you? Its not your fault, is it?" Anxious green eyes cut through Emmys defences and she found herself talking for the first time in months.
"I guess partly - its both our faults. But my parents are old fashioned - sanctity of marriage and all that.....youre not married, are you? Boyfriend?" That earned a shake of the head and then a snort. "Oh. Girlfriend?" That earned an amazed stare, which Emmy greeted with a broad smile. "Okay, guess not. Never can tell these days!"
"Do you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend? Is that why your parents are angry? My momma used to be angry at me whenever I talked about boys........."
"No, I dont have either. Thats not why my marriage broke up. Why did your momma get angry?"
"She used to get very angry and scream a lot - and sometimes shed hit me. Especially after she got sick. I suppose she was scared in case I left her, but I wouldnt have done that! She needed me!"
The girls face was so earnest and open, that Emmy just wanted to hug her and she pulled her closer and rubbed her arm roughly. Poor kid had obviously been under her mothers thumb most of her life - maybe she was struggling now she was on her own? "How long ago did your mother die?"
"How have you been managing on your own?"
Sarah shrugged again, and buried her face in Emmys breast. Her voice floated up, muffled. "I miss her a lot - its been tough. I get so lonely - like you said you did. And I dont have very much money left - momma didnt have much. I tried to get a job in the hospital, but they wouldnt let me work there, and I never finished school because thats when momma got sick, so I havent got the qualifications. But I work in the big supermarket in town for four days and thats good."
"Yeah, I know how tough it can be when someone you love leaves you."
"Like your husband?"
"Well, not him so much. Wed fallen out of love a long time before, and it really wasnt working out. We only stayed together for our children."
Sarah shot upright from her warm nest pressed against Emmy. "You have children? Then why are you so sad and lonely?"
"Patrick took them. Hes denying me access to them - says Im an unfit mother. Because of my working hours, hes claiming that I cant make proper arrangements for them. And he says I couldnt cope with them, that I didnt feed them properly, that I didnt treat them properly. Hes even making up lies about me punishing them....thats why the divorce is so horrible. I dont even get to see my own damn children anymore! Lying bastard - I never beat them! I couldnt ever beat my own kids!"
"My momma used to beat me......" Sarah mused thoughtfully. "But you didnt and your children have been taken away. What did you do to them?"
"I didnt do anything!"
"It must hurt you a lot....to have them taken away?"
"It hurts so much, its incredibly painful. I ache to just hold them in my arms, to kiss them goodnight and to tuck them into bed at night. To brush their hair and make them brush their teeth and read them a story. To shop for clothes for them, to cook them their favourite meals.... you just dont know what its like....how empty I feel....."Her voice wavered, then broke and she started crying helplessly. "God, I miss my kids so much.......that bastard has taken away my life!" She gasped for breath as the tide of emotions shed been holding back for so long broke her wide open, and she felt the heaving sobs rippling through her body.
Sarah just held her and rocked her, until the frantic sobbing faded to broken weeping. She dimly became aware of Sarahs small arms wrapped round her and her voice crooning next to her ear. "Shhh. Poor Emmy. Such pain.....poor Emmy.......Nobody as nice as you should have to suffer like this......Dont worry - itll be alright. Itll be alright....Ill help you....."
".....nothing you can do.....even my parents have turned their backs on me....need to see my kids. I feel like my heart has been cut out......"
The soft, rhythmic stroking of her long, black hair was strangely soothing, as was the whispering in her ear. "Yes, I know....feels like its not worth carrying on, doesnt it? Doesnt it? Dont you wonder sometimes why youre still alive? If its worth it? Poor Emmy. Do you wonder sometimes even if you are alive? Sometimes its better to end the pain.....I know....youre not alone. Ill help you."
"I can help you - I can bring you peace, if you let me. Wont you let me?"
With her sobs quieting down to soft sniffles, Emmy could dimly make out through tear washed eyes the sincere face of the young woman before her, and felt the warmth of her body being held so close, and suddenly she craved human contact - the touch of anybody, given in kindness or love. Not the many angry words, stinging slaps and awkward silences that her life had become over the last six months. She nodded, saw a beatific smile spread over the beautiful face in front of her, and felt warm lips press against her forehead.
"Good girl." Were the last words she ever heard, as Sarah pushed her over the edge of the bridge and into the swirling, sucking water waiting expectantly below.
Pausing to stare over the edge, Sarah then dropped the thick woollen coat from her shoulders and left it pooled on the parapet. "Bye bye, Emmy. Youll be happy now. Youll see - no more pain." She smiled, picked up her keys and the few coins that were scattered around and headed home.
Sarah pushed open the door of her mothers house, crept in and pulled her sodden shoes off before heading into the bathroom to grab a towel and dry herself off.
"Hey, momma - Im home! Guess what - I met someone really nice today! I was gonna do it, like I told you I would...to be with you again. I miss you so much, momma. But Emmy came along and helped me loads. She was in a lot of pain, like you used to be, but I helped her too." She walked into her living room. "Like I helped you, momma. I hope shes happy now - poor Emmy. Cause you are happier, arent you momma?" She stroked the outline of her mothers face in the picture she held, smiling gently. "So much pain in the world - so many people hurting. I do what I can - I know its what you wouldve wanted. Are you proud of me, momma?"
She placed the frame carefully back in its resting place, and pulled open a drawer which was filled with an assortment of odd items - keys, jewellery, gloves and scarfs, mens pipes and lighters - and unballed her fist. She carefully smoothed Emmys crumpled handkerchief and then folded it until it lay immaculately creased. "There," she said, as she placed the handkerchief in the drawer along with the other items. "There you go, Emmy. You can join the others."
She headed out to the hall, picked up the newspaper which lay on the mat, and returned to the living room, where she sat down and spread the broadsheet out on the table. Skimming over it, she stopped at a tiny article buried deeply amongst columns of tiny print.
"Hey, look momma - its Catherine Williams. Remember her? Shes the leather gloves...yeah, the nice ones. Says here they dont know why she did it. Huh! She was in a lot of pain - if they cared about her, they wouldve known that! I tell you, momma - so much pain in the world. What I do - its for the greater good. Isnt it?"
Okay - pretty weird I know. What can I say? I was having a dark moment. But hey - dont let that put you off writing to me!
Until next time
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