Part IV

Moon’s rhythmic stride is natural and settled as the sound of ocean waves lap at the mysterious columns that disappear into nowhere beneath the water’s dark surface. Her ecstatic sprint diminished long ago. How long is unknown. Perhaps hours. Days? The sun disperses itself behind an expanse of white overcast. All this time, it never moved. Though somehow night turned to day, and day never seems to want to go away.

“If only I could walk on the water, I would walk all the way out to the edge of the horizon just to see what’s there.” Moon smiles at an old fantasy she had while sitting on the edge of the pier a few days ago.

She gazes blankly ahead with her dark owl eyes. Strands of dark hair wisp across her round face. For the first time, her eyes wander into the peripheral. Slowly, her head follows her gaze and she turns to look over her shoulder. Moon inhales deeply as she sees a gray line of concrete shrink into the distance, with nothing at the end. The spaces behind her and in front of her are identical. The glow from the overcast sun creates a haze that makes the horizon disappear. Moon walks in what seems like a blank space of complete nothingness. Nothing but glowing gray.

For the first time she feels unsteady. She walks to the side of the bridge and peaks over the edge. As she looks down into the rolling waves, she sees a little face, a woman’s face with red lips and white hair. It looks straight back at her and begins to rise up from the depths. Slow at first, then faster until it’s hurtling like a torpedo. Moon screams and jumps backward. As she falls back, she looks up and sees a fish the size of a school bus rise out of the water and soar directly above her. It looks like a massively oversized tuna. As it makes its grand leap over the bridge, Moon impulsively reached a curious finger out to touch the pearly scales, each the size of her little hands. They gleam at her graze and she giggles in wide-eyed wonder. With a great splash, the enormous fish dives back into the sea on the other side of the bridge. Moon stares after it, mouth agape. She’s drenched from head to toe like a wet mop.

The sea stirs again. The overcast sky darkens and contorts as clouds start to mold into gray mountains. In mere moments, the lapping water turns into crashing waves and soft raindrops paint tiny flecks on the gray cement. Moon stands and begins to walk again, unsure what to do in the case of a storm. There’s nowhere to take shelter. The waters continue to churn ever-louder and waves swell. The rainfall surges and the winds pull her little body in every direction. Worried and confused, though mightily exhausted, Moon starts to run. Waves wash over the edge of the bridge, filling Moon’s sneakers with heavy, slippery water. She stops, hunches over and tears her shoes and socks off. As she stuffs them into her backpack, she looks up and sees a little bird lying, unmoving, in a puddle of water ahead of her. She sweeps it into her arms and staggers forward.

The rain beats down so heavy now that it’s blinding. The wind can’t make up its mind if it wants Moon to be dragged backward or propelled forward or even pushed over the side of the bridge to be swallowed by giant waves. Moon slips and falls. The little bird tumbles from her arms across the ground like a little die tossed across emerald felt. Moon’s outcry is swallowed by the roar of the storm. She lunges for the little bird, scoops it up and darts ahead, barely dodging a wave that devours the entire width of the bridge in one sweeping crash behind her. Still running, she releases one arms from the backpack. It swings forward and she fumbles with the zipper, unable to see clearly through the downpour.

It was like the ocean wanted to leap into the air and free itself from gravity. Then it would scatter in the air and come crashing back down.

Moon’s panicked hand stirs around the contents of her bag until it finds the glass jar filled with glitter. As she sprints into the chaos that tries to consume her, she shoves the little bird into her mouth. She clasps the jar with both hands and squeezes. The jar slips through her fingers and shatters on the concrete at Moon’s heels. Rainbow glitter explodes into the rain. The wind spirals around the little girl’s trembling frame, covering her from head to toe in shimmering flecks of fairy dust. She leans into the rain and sprints forward. Moon puffs her cheeks to make space for the little bird in her mouth. She flares her nostrils and empties her lungs with groans of desperate determination, flailing her arms in the ocean of flying water.

From one second to the next, Moon is lifted from the concrete and engulfed in the chaotic torrent. Her feet and arms continue to flail in all directions as she desperately grabs in vein, searching for solid ground. She’s helplessly tossed and turned by the violent current like a toy shaken by a puppy. For a moment, she stops fighting the water and squints her eyes open. She’s spiraling, flipping and turning in every direction, but for a second, she sees the flash of red lips and white hair.

Amidst her aimless floundering, Moon bumps into something hard. “The bridge!” She immediately reaches out and grabs hold of what feels like one of the ropes that lines each side of the bridge. It seems to pull her, or maybe it’s the current fighting to pull Moon away – it’s impossible to tell. Moon’s head rises from the water and she sucks as much air as she can through her nose before being submerged again. With all her might, she clings to the rope. The breaths she draws grow shallower and further far-between. She’s scared, exhausted and angry with herself for stepping onto the bridge in the first place. She wishes she could go home and fall into her parents’ warm and safe embrace. The gentle memory of home soothes her turmoil. Moon’s fingers loosen their grip on the rope.

“Don’t let go!” The cry of a woman’s voice shocks Moon from her daze. Her fingers snatch the rope up again. She pulls herself along until her hands feel a flat surface. But it isn’t concrete. Moon glimpses the shimmer of a rainbow fish scale. She gasps. Her mouth fills with water. The rope snags. Moon clings tightly and surges forward at an incredible speed. She grabs on with both hands and cries out, “I won’t let go!”

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