Saturday 24 June 2023

'Only Water' by Sarah McPherson

It is only when the storm breaks and rain waterfalls against the windows, the rushing and crying and the noise of it and the pressure suddenly released, that she realises she needs to leave, needs to get out of here and she runs out of the house without coat, without shoes, without thought, and across the dunes leaving the imprint of her feet dotted across the wet sand like braille, like a route map, and the sound of the rain masks anything else and she can’t quite tell where she is and she is gripped by a sudden fear that she won’t find the ocean, or that she’ll find it too soon.

It is only when her hair and clothes are wet through and plastered to her skin, clinging like seaweed, that she stops, falls to her hands and knees, crawls up and over the next dune as marram grass whips in her face and there is sand under her fingernails and she can smell the salt and she knows she is going the right way.

It is only when the drumbeat of the rain and the deep rumble of thunder overhead are joined by a new noise, the growl of the surf singing with them in harmony, that she feels like she can breathe again.

It is only when the first ripples tease her fingers, dancing around her hands then sucking the sand from under them, that she gets back to her feet.

It is only when the water is up to her knees, her thighs, her waist, that she leans backwards until she is floating.

It is only when she is floating that she realises the rain has stopped.

It is only when she sinks that she feels free.

It is only her; only water.

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