Bobbing in the
, you peer toward the far shore. Night paints the black water acrylic. The topaz gleam of the Sunstone beckons from among trees slender as Van Gogh’s cypresses. Ghost River
Wisely, you turn away. You will swim back to the near shore and seek advice from the Ghost Deer. You kick, and a chill hand seizes your ankles. The river twists you backward. Your arms flail empty spirals, struggling against the surging current that pulls you under.
A song comes into your throat, your last breath bursting to get free. You swallow it. It won’t stay down. It tries to push out from behind your eyes!
And then, you are staring into a hooligan face. A salmon has swum up close. “Stop struggling!” his chiding voice teems. “The way up is down! Follow me!”
The instant you stop trying to swim, you plummet. The song of your life spins above you in crystal bubbles.
Gritting your teeth against the next moment’s grim inhalation, you bounce off the river bottom’s soft trampoline. You somersault through a cloud of silt and land in a kelp forest that sieves the current.
“Take hold!” A slippery flash of salmon sews a path among the leathery fronds.
You claw your way through that nightmare jungle and strain against the undertow. The salmon skims close to your ear and whispers encouragement: “As every ray of light is free, all darkness has design. Hold on. Keep crawling. You’re defeating defeat. A little farther. Okay, now. Let go!”
Your fists unclench the river weeds, and you rise. The salmon pushes from under.
With a wet gasp, you break the surface and inhale moony air. Rolling to your back, you gape at the breathing stars.
The salmon slaps its tail and declares through a pugnacious grin, “It doesn’t take a Shaman Salmon to see you shouldn’t be swimming in the
.” Ghost River
When your breath finally fits words, you say, “The far shore… I must reach it.”
“Then, you better get yourself a boat.”