By Linda Christen

Jane never wore her contacts to the pond. She liked to feel her body gliding down into the deeper layer of cold water, where the water held layers of mystery and familiarity, and she risked losing your contacts.

Swimming blind was an act of the deepest trust in the spirits of this lake and trees. She also appreciated that with the loss of one sense, this magnified the other senses—the coolness of the water, its soft smooth texture on her body, the far off twittering of randy birds and the distinct scent of spring. Would her pond be different if she could see?

Jane dove in; she’d been swimming here for most of her life and knew the banks like the slowly changing curves of her face, and knew just how deeply she could dive. Coming up for air, she lifted her face to the sun and wiped the water from her eyes. Feeling restless, she slid back underwater to see how far across the pond she could go before coming back up for air. She made it halfway across, but didn’t want to hover for long in the middle of the lake, so she started to turn back. No one knew how deep it was here. Some said it was fed by an underground water source and was hundreds of feet deep. While this seemed an exaggeration, she knew she couldn’t see the bottom, and once long ago, diving down as far as she dared, she never hit earth.
It was one of the few things in life that scared her: Drowning in the middle of the lake, her body sinking for eternity.

As she turned toward shore, something briefly bumped against her thigh. She nearly panicked, choked on water and, confused, turned back and forth forgetting how to get to the nearest shore. Opened eyes under the water was no help: The murky water, further obscured by foggy unfocused eyes, kept her from being able to see what it was, as it now bumped against her waist. Soft and hard at the same time, it scraped down her leg as she yelped.

Not knowing what it was nor what to do, Jane….