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I must be dead. I can’t feel a thing, but there’s this music echoing far off in the distance. I feel completely at rest until I feel a soft fingertip begin to stroke my forehead between my eyebrows.
Slowly, my eyes open and look into the most angelic face I have ever seen. A beautiful brown-skinned woman faces me, completely naked at least from the waist up, her hair like sunshine. Her eyes are closed, but the way she’s smiling, I wanna get up and kiss her or something, but I’m just completely numb with comfort, resting my head in her lap.
I think I remember what happened. Me and a couple buddies rented a boat and went fishing on the lake. We didn’t catch any fish, but we sure got hammered. So hammered, we got lost. We tried finding our way back to the shore when that storm came out of nowhere, swallowing the daylight in angry, dark clouds. Ted and whatever wasn’t tied down got washed away in the first huge wave that hit us. Chris got pitched right off the side, staring at the suddenly blanketed sky, when a huge wave rose abruptly beneath us and threw him off the deck. Al was still holding onto the steering wheel when we hit a wave so big it almost stood the boat on its stern, the bow pointing into the sky. He dangled by the wheel and I was hanging onto a sail, arms and legs wrapped tightly around the pole. We hung there in slow motion and I thought we were going to tip all the way over and land upside down. But we rode the wave out and slammed hard right side up. I woke up flat on my back, seeing stars and coughing up water and trying to get my breath back. My vision cleared and I sat up looking over to where Al used to be. As I got my footing, I turned and looked around. The rain was coming down in sheets so thick I never saw the boat heading towards the rocks.
Then I woke up here with her. The longer I lay here in her arms, the more distant all that seems, my memories of everything fading away with each stroke of her hand. The expression on her face is saying, “You’re here with me now. Be safe.”
She blows something off her fingertip and begins to stroke my left leg. A single hair catches in my right eyelash and without opening her eyes she deftly plucks it out with her free hand. Something doesn’t feel right as she strokes my leg. I try to sit up to see if it’s broken, but she gently eases me back down, not saying a word, but telling me to relax.
I rest my head in her lap again and look at that beautiful smiling face and I don’t care about my leg anymore. The discomfort goes away and she eventually moves to my arm, running her fingers up and down. I reach up to touch her face and see my arm has become translucent. I can see the powder blue sky through it, and the ghost of the bones and veins underneath.
Panicked, I open my mouth to scream, to speak, to something, but as soon as I think it, her hand is holding mine, taking hold of my fear. I look at her face and it simply tells me, “No,” as it radiates love and affection that resonates all through me and I relax again. The music in my head returns, and she begins stroking my arm again. I’m falling in love with her, I realize, as I drowse without closing my eyes and fall asleep desperately wanting to look into hers.
I don’t recall opening my eyes. I’m briefly aware she has been rubbing my chest, the after-sensation of her hands touching me, still lingering. She cuddles me like a baby, rubbing my neck and running her fingers through my hair. I feel like I’m still wrapped in a wonderful dream as her hands rapidly go over my face and head. She lovingly traces every crevice, the corners of my eyes, my laugh lines, the little divit under my nose, over and over again.
I want so badly to touch her face and as I realize I can’t, I understand what has happened. I don’t need to touch her face anymore. She holds all that is left of me in her hands and somehow… somehow I still see. And I know. I feel myself coursing through her veins, as much a part of her as she is to herself, but still separate. She holds me away from her, waiting for my answer and I say, “Yes,” with all of me that is left. She opens her eyes and there are only empty sockets. She closes her hands over me and when she opens her eyes again, she sees through me. Instantly, the barriers of where I end and she begins, disappear and we meld into one. We look down to where I was lying and there are only the tattered rags left of what was my clothing. We look a moment, not in mourning, but simple curiosity and then use our tail to push back towards the rising tide and back into the ocean. Our gills open and begin to breathe as we swim away.