The Wave by Jeanette Smith
It starts as a trickle. Just a small flow of water like the kind that runs along the curbside toward the drain after a ten-minute afternoon rain shower. The liquid puddles toward your feet and you step forward to avoid getting wet. But the water follows. You take two steps. Still, the water comes. Now you begin to walk at a brisk pace. Better to get ahead of it a bit. But when you turn, there it is lapping at the edge of your shadow.
The trickle becomes a steady stream. Your footsteps quicken, but the flow matches you. Perhaps, you think, if I slow down a bit the water will too. So you try. The water doesn’t slow down. Instead, it pours into your shoes and seeps into the bottoms of your pants. Each step becomes heavier than the next. As your limbs turn to stone, you break into a jog.
Now the stream forms a rapid river. Wild broncos rise up from the depths and charge forward in a terrible stampede of whitecaps. The force of their advance crashes in your ears and echoes through the ever-deepening canyon the water carves. You run.
Now the river ascends and folds its serpentine lengths together to amass into a wave. The wave looms, darkening the sky above so you forget there ever was a sun. You run as fast as you can. Ever on the water comes. Ever blacker it grows.
At times, your steps falter. The water rushes forward as you slip back and the edges of the wave break off like ragged shark’s teeth to ricochet off your heels. Still, you run.
On you go because there is no more reality where standing still exists. Your legs cramp and your lungs burn. But body be damned. You are sprinting, avoiding collisions by milliseconds and millimeters.
The wave is all you see. Its crest surges and folds to cave in around you. Your back is hammered in the tsunami’s torrent and you’re sucked into the liquid’s wicked embrace. Water fills your mouth as your screams are suffocated.
And all the while, the onlookers only ever comment, “Marvelous, how fast she goes.”
FLASH GLASS: A MONTHLY PUBLICATION OF FLASH FICTION, PROSE POETRY, & MICRO ESSAYS
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