GIVETHEREADERSWHATTHEYWANT!
One writer's experiment to tackle any subject his friends come up with.
4/11/11-DAVID ATWELL

Lakota Wolf Falls… where two rivers become one

 

Waiting To Fall

 

Bryan lay on the damp leaves at the edge of the pool.   Under a creased brow, he squinted up at the sunlight playing through the dense summer canopy above.  The waterfall behind him spattered on rocks worn smooth by nature’s play.

“Sometimes it feels like I’m chasing you.”

On the opposite side of the pool, Katy lifted herself from the water. “Did you say something? I can’t hear you above the fall.”

Bryan paused a moment before responding.  “Did you ever tell me how you found this place?”

Katy stood atop the rock, postponing her dive. “I just followed the stream where it crosses the trail back there. The first time I came here was in the middle of March. The water was just starting to really flow – the first real snow-melt. It was totally frigid, but I was so excited, I just stripped naked right on this rock and jumped in. I could only stand it for a minute, but I doubt I’ll ever forget it.”

John cracked a smile and rose up onto his elbows.   He turned to look at Katy on her rock, her slim figure covered now by a simple one-piece.  “Right on that rock?”

“Yep.”

“Sorry I missed it.”

“You bet you are.” Katy arrowed into the deep, clear water and emerged on the opposite side, near Bryan. She approached him, smooth grey pebbles crunching underfoot. She stopped and stood over him, water and sunlight showering from her and from beyond her.

“You coming in or not?”

Bryan shielded his eyes from Katy’s halo and rain as he smiled up at her silhouette.  “That’s quite a vision.”

Katy bent down and kissed him.  “Thank you.   Now are you going to join the young lady for a swim or do your Rip Van Winkle routine again?”

Bryan sat up.   “Hey, I don’t sleep here, I meditate!”

“Okay, Swami Johnson.”  Katy stepped back into the water, looking over her shoulder as she did so.  “Meanwhile, the world awaits.”

Bryan rose and followed her, brushing leaves off his back and legs.   He lowered himself into the cool water and watched Katy climb the rock again.   The splash of the falls made the air lively and crisp.  Katy appeared focused as she jumped and took a jack-knife form, but pulled her knees up tight just before hitting the water, showering Bryan with a brilliant spray.   She emerged with a pleased smile as he was wiping his eyes.

She cocked her head.  “So, Sigmund, if I didn’t drag you here, would you come?”

Well, the company is the best part.”   Bryan grinned at his girlfriend, then let out a deep breath and swam toward her.  The need for constant paddling made embracing impossible.  His eyes drifted away and climbed up the cascade of water behind her.   “But yeah, I would.   It’s like a bookmark, you know?   You can take a break here, stop things for a while, process it, and come back to real life again.”

Sure, I can see that.   It’s rejuvenating.  You charge up here for a bit, then you’re ready to jump back into things.”

Bryan nodded, but his forehead wrinkled.   He paddled a moment longer, then made his way to the side of the pool.  Katy followed.   He took a seat on a wide, flat rock, his hand dislodging old moss, releasing the smell of wet dirt and vegetation.  He sat facing the waterfall, the warm sun already drying his back.

Do you think there’s enough room for two lives in one heart, Kat?”

Katy frowned and got up on the rock beside him.   She placed a finger on his arm, tracing droplets between veins.  “What do you mean?”

I mean,” he paused, “between us.  Do I live too much in my head?”

Katy lifted her finger, and raised her eyebrows.  “Or do I live too much in my body?”

Bryan’s face softened and one corner of his mouth curled as he glanced sideways at Katy.   “Hey, no complaints here.”

So what’s the issue?”

I just want to know that I’m the guy you need, I guess.”

Well, you can’t.”

Huh?”

You’re asking an impossible question.   You want to be assured your sacrifice is going to pay off. If you could be, it wouldn’t be a sacrifice.  You just have to decide to do it, or not.  Don’t half-ass it, Bry.”

Bryan’s eyes dropped.   “I just worry sometimes-”

Hey, I told you about when my dad let me drag race his old Demon, right?”

Bryan’s eyes darted under pinched lids, searching for the flow of conversation.   “Yeah…”

Katy stretched her arms out in front of her, animated by her recollection.   “So I was behind the wheel of this steel beast, four hundred fifty horses growling at my feet.”

Bryan grinned wide at Katy’s re-enactment.   Catching his eye, Katy smiled as well and continued.

It smelled terrible because I had just spun those big fat tires on the burnout pad and now they were melted to the blacktop, like a tiger digging its claws into the earth.   The christmas tree went from red to green in a split second, and I slammed my foot down.   ‘Just punch it and point her straight,’ my dad said.  That’s what I did – and the car exploded off the line!”   Katy threw her arms out in illustration.

And I lost my mind, Bryan!  I don’t mean I went crazy, I just lost track of what was telling me what.   For a quarter mile, ten seconds, the car just kept going faster, and I felt like a fighter pilot, with this pressure on my chest, this tingling in all my extremities, but especially right in my gut.  The rush could have been physical acceleration, or it could have been my own adrenaline; I couldn’t tell.”

Katy finished her story, hands out and eyes wide.  Bryan’s lips were pursed.   “So you lost yourself in the excitement?”

Well, yeah, but that’s more a side effect of what was really going on.”   She paused, and her nostrils flared.   “It’s like the Eiffel Tower.”

Bryan snorted.   “Oh yeah, of course.”

I’m serious!   Remember on the elevator up, Ms. Sanders was going on and on about how the French hated it at first, but now everybody loves it?”

Yeah.”

But do you remember how it felt, when you were two thirds of the way up, and it already seemed way too thin around you, and you knew you were going to keep going higher and it was only going to get thinner?”

Bryan nodded slowly, his eyes unfocused.  “Yeah. Yeah, I do.”

It was scary, right?  But so amazing, too – I really wanted the elevator to stop, and to keep going.  I was thinking about all those haters riding that elevator, up the tallest building in the world, and wondering if it was the exhilaration that changed their minds, made them see this big bony steel skeleton as something thin, and light, and beautiful.  How did he make the tower more than all the engineering he put into it?   You look at it, and you’re impressed.   But you put yourself into it, and – you’re moved.”

The corners of Bryan’s eyes crinkled as he looked at the beatific expression on Katy’s face.  “Hey, let’s get back into the water.”   He held her hand as they walked down the rocks.   They glided quietly into the pool’s middle, where they began to tread water, looking at each other.

Okay, my turn,” Bryan smirked.  “You know how they say ‘music filled the room’?”

Now Katy smiled.   “Sure.”

It always makes me think of swimming, like you could fill a room with sound and move through it.   The sound echoing off everything gives you an extra sense of the room.  But when you’re actually swimming, sometimes you can’t see anything.  You just know it’s there.”

They both looked down.   Despite the water’s clarity, natural murkiness removed any details beyond their toes.

Sound is like an extra dimension to a room, and helps you understand it better.   Swimming is like that, but it’s totally opposite, too.   You’re in this body, and the body fills this void, and even though you can’t see it, or hear it, you’re intimately aware that what touches you touches everything else in your immediate universe; you feel the space.”

Bryan and Katy looked at each other, still paddling, their breathing coming in bursts.

Sometimes, out in the lake, my imagination gets away from me, and I start to picture this incredible void underneath me.   Being in the water, feeling it all around me, but seeing nothing, it’s like my senses are saturated and denied, all at once, and this primal part takes over.  It’s terrifying, but liberating too.”   Bryan paused.  “I always thought it was something I should control.”

Katy’s head tilted, and her voice was almost lost in the hiss of the waterfall.  “But now…”

Bryan met her gaze.  Droplets glistened on her dark lashes.  He shook his head, smiling.  “Yeah.  I don’t know.”

 

Copyright Cole Bennett, all rights reserved.

 

 

18 Comments to “4/11/11-DAVID ATWELL”

  1. Cole Bennett says:

    David, I’m looking forward to exploring this one. Hoping for peace out of conflict. But it’s a little different from what you told me at lunch, right? I may still write about wolves…

    • Cole Bennett says:

      Nope, no wolves!

    • David says:

      Wonderful story Cole! I really like it very much. It is a departure as you and Jas say but that’s what so nice and creative about the whole process.

      There are many things within in it that I identify with psychologically, relationship wise, as well as the lake and water.

      It’s kinda deep or maybe I’m exploring and looking into too much.

  2. Jās says:

    No wolves.

  3. Sean Gladding says:

    quite the departure cole! i like it. a lot.

  4. Joe says:

    The start of the story is slow and sensuous. The diologue interperses itself among the splashes. It’s kind of sexy, too—her story of her first swim. I’m excited by the skill you show as you guide us into the scene.

    I think then though you make the conversation too complicated—her story of her race car experience is fine, though her point about it almost seems to validate his worry about them being too different. Is she trying to convince him to get out of his mind? The leap to the Eifel tower anecdote seems a bit strained—she’s making another point but it doesn’t seem to be the point of the waterfall and the swimming.
    I like the diologue. I’m not sure big speeches work here. I wonder if you’re not rushing us to the conclusion. I wonder if the conclusion might not be better served by a sadness as they realize that no, they really can’t make it.

    • Cole Bennett says:

      Hey Joe, thanks for your thoughts! This was yet another compromise, as far as following the perfect story-writing formula goes (at least, in our definition of letting the characters develop it themselves). I agree with the “wonder”s of your last few sentences.

      I started writing this one thinking about water, pools and some thoughts I’d tried to express way back in first year of architecture school: this generally mysterious feeling about being in a lake or pond, an idea I’d never quite gotten right. It clicked pretty quickly and led me to thinking about scuba training and how physical and cerebral it is, simultaneously, floating in the deep end of a swimming pool, moving through space, being able to pause at any point indefinitely, like panning around in a 3D model. Then I thought of driving Michelle’s dad’s Demon (yeah for reals!), the adrenaline/acceleration dichotomy, and then the Eiffel Tower. All my own experiences, all related by their blurring the boundaries between sensation and thought, external and internal, physical and mental. That was what I was taking from it.

      I built the story up around those ideas, which, again, may be cheating, but I’ll argue that once I’d decided that these were the things that each character thought, they moved the story along in their own ways. I edited down what I’d written about each of those recollections, omitting the scuba one, to make it seem more like natural dialogue, and hopefully avoid its coming off as too expository (oh well!). The point I felt they’d arrived at was that each had their own experiences wherein the perceived boundaries between physical and mental had become blurred. It may be oblique, but I was happy that it wasn’t spelled out, too. Of course, here I am, spelling it out, but it *is my* blog, haha!

  5. Pat Bennett says:

    Wow, Cole, I like this story a lot. It’s more familiar to me and follows my frame of thinking. I am led into the idea and want to follow through and see how the characters relate.

  6. Eric T Morrow says:

    Just catching up on my reading. :)

    I know I’ve said it already, but you really do have a knack for the imagery! I also think it’s getting better. I was so transported into this story that I almost could feel the water and smell the wet dirt and vegetation.

    The questioning and vulnerability that we all feel when putting our hearts in another’s hands — we DO all feel that right? — was spot on. I also like that the ending doesn’t give a full-on resolution. It matches that we don’t know where matters of the heart are going to lead until we go along for the ride. Nice.

  7. Jen says:

    I am finally catching up– I’ve missed reading these!
    I enjoyed this overall but my favorite part is the description of a place or a time as a bookmark. We don’t track time in our lives, we track events and moments, and I love the concept of a bookmark. This moment is a page I’ve turned down in my life and will come back to over and over, or even this bookmark is one I’ll put in the many chapters of my life– there’s a lot more to that idea, I think.
    Thanks for giving me a new way of thinking about something– that’s one of my favorite things in the world
    Jen

    • Cole Bennett says:

      Thanks, Jen! It’s so refreshing to be reminded of my earlier stories – it seems so long ago! I re-read this one and thought of several things I would do differently.

      Progress (?/!)

      I love your insight as well. I wrote a “Why I Write” essay for myself yesterday. I don’t know if I’ll ever post it, but a lot of it has to do with sharing ourselves, our truths, and learning from each other. Thanks for the edification.

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