The water beckons. Not quite safe – but you have never felt the need for safe. You pause, listen for birds, for chatter, for cars, watch the water for shadowed shapes. The last time, you saw black knobs approach just before the wrenching end, the rapid scramble to the water's edge. The jacket first. Slowly. A bird calls out to the sun. Next the shirt. You let the sunlight fall into your hair, let shadows dance across your shoulders, your chest. The water waits. Jeans next. A little clumsy, this – the denim so tight against your skin. You take your time, spin again, run your tongue against your lips. You turn. You hear the water shift. Insects perhaps. Or fish. You shed the last few remnants of your clothes. A shriek of birdsong tears the air. You step into the waiting depths. Warm, this water. You had almost forgotten. Almost. You look down to the limestone below, remember when it held trees and dirt. Your fists clench. The water stirs, presses hard against your skin. You cry out into the wind. Return to me, you beg. Water flows across your lips, presses against your skin. You can walk upon the earth again, touch me with wet skin, cry out into the night. Sip coffee in the morning. Return to me, return to me. Kiss me until we both forget. You slide down into the depths, press feet into the harsh limestone. The water holds you close. For this you will risk anything. The birds shriek soaring into the sky. You will not, cannot forget. The water knows. Come back. You sink, knowing you will return. The water beats into your skin.
Mari Ness has published poetry and fiction in Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Apex, Uncanny, Daily Science Fiction, Mythic Delirium, Strange Horizons and other publications She is also the author of Through Immortal Shadows Singing, a poetry novella, released in 2017 by Papaveria Press. For a longer list of her works, see her blog at marikness.wordpress.com. She lives in central Florida, and can be found on Twitter, @mari_ness.