"River in Forest," by Kazimir Malevich

Water Striders

“Water Striders” addresses the mundane through a surreal metaphor. Focused on the abstract feeling of monotony or depression (or whatever it is the reader can find in it), “Water Striders” juxtaposes this with a fantastical realm, creating a mystical narrative of negative emotionality. Finally, when the protagonist breaks the cycle, the readers are left wondering whether this leads to something better, worse, or just different — we can’t know.

Swimming along the river of discontentment
I spot a nearby paddler
He’s bigger than me
And balder than me
And I try to stay out of his way

But he doggy paddles
His hairy arms making waves through the water
Closer and closer
Until he’s next to me

“What a lovely day for a swim”
I look up
It’s cloudy and grey
Ice is frosting at the weeds
Algae is clinging to my skin
The river is still, current-less
A nearby crow barks at me
I nod my head at him

We wade together
He accepted my nod as an invitation to silence
So that’s what we are
The only sounds:
Our arms coming in and out of the water
Our breath hitching
The crows barking

We find a rock jutting out of the river
We make our way to it and sit
A brief moment above our discontent
Our feet still lazing in the water below us

“What are you in for?”
He speaks
I shrug, too much to explain
Or maybe too little

He shrugs
He leans back on the rock and scratches at his head
A mosquito bite
A big one
Fat and angry and red

He stares at the sky
“And where are you going?”
I lay back next to him
Stare into the grey above me
I open my mouth, voice creaky
“I guess the same place you are”
“Fair enough”

We lay a moment
Then a few moments more

Then we move,
Our bones cracking,
And slide back into the musty water

Image by Victoria_Borodinova from Pixabay 

He decides,
Out of what I can only assume as ill-conceived machismo
To take a breath and swim under water
He grabs his nose and plunges further
Below the algae

I tread water and wait for him
A crow barks and flaps over the river
I shrug and continue on

I start to shiver
Waiting for something
Hoping for something…

I swim among the algae, below the crows, between the grass freezing on either side

I come upon another rock
This one is brown and much bigger than before
I climb up it
Slipping on its moss and slimy bits

I sit there, picking algae off my legs
My arms
I look into the water
I can’t see my reflection
I wouldn’t want to anyway
But I look for it
Something familiar

I’m on this rock and I dread going back in the water
What a big emotion
For such a small person.

I stand on top of my rock
I could live here, I think

I think not.

I take a deep breath
I dive into the river
Into the water
Under the water
Out of the water
And home again

The river is still once more
No one to disturb it
A crow barks and flies on top of the mossy brown rock

Claire Natale is an amateur writer, photographer, and filmmaker. She’s just starting off her career as an artist and is excited for it. Her photography has been accepted to the Banana Factory’s Annual Juried Exhibition and she hopes to get accepted to many more exhibitions, and publications as well. She enjoys spending time with her family, friend(s) and cat.

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