27

On the weekends, they often went on walks through the forests, exploring the wilderness and surrounding areas. Beatrice would become fascinated with the trees, because they weren’t trees at all, they were rivers; short, vertical rivers, and she would swim in them sometimes. The water was sparkling and clear; bubbles would float up from her mouth as a grin spreads across her face.

She spins around in the crystal water, looking up at Felix. He is sitting outside the water, on some rocks, and his body is glistening. She watches him dry off, and she finds herself getting warm as she watches his muscles twist and flex. She flips back over and descends deeper into the river, oohing and aahing over shiny rocks embedded in the soil. She reaches out and grabs a fistful of them.

They melt in her hand. They turn to white sludge. She wrinkles her brow and then something grabs her by the neck from behind, shaking her like a cheap doll. The water slides away and she is suspended in space, held up by this massive hand. Twisting, shouting, wriggling, screaming, she tries to see what is holding her but she cannot. All she can hear is uproarious laughter. Below her, the river bed is completely dry; fish lie dead, staring at her. The rocks and the sand have all melted, and slowly they form a new river. This new river is darker than the last one. The water is not sparkling and clear.

She is thrust into this new river, held under its dark waters, and she gives up fighting, she surrenders. When she goes limp, she is held for one more second and then let go, the water picking her up and rushing her along to wherever it is she is supposed to be. Assuming, of course, that she is supposed to be anywhere.

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