Dragged down, kicking frantically free of the kayak, I drowned a scream by gulping a mouthful of water and swam for the surface, my eyes reaching for the distant starry sky. I was disoriented, my faith broken. In the awful loneliness of my ordeal, Maria was like a sun illuminating my eternal darkness and I lived again, my bitter cup sweetened before the passionate spell of her crystal soul. I was reciting the lyrics of “El Cielo en Tus Ojos”, of course, but that simple recitation brought me back up, spluttering, treading water, and moments later found me swimming for the shelter of the marsh, where I found soft purchase in pluff mud, lay down shivering and breathless swaddled in sea grass, and wondered what next.
My kayak and the incriminating salvaged contraband were gone. All I had to do was get home, reassure Maria, and forget the whole story. I must have dropped off for a while, my thoughts revolving inexorably, as dreams tend to do, around swimming four hundred yards in twelve minutes to qualify as a volunteer scuba diver in the South Carolina Aquarium. I woke, chilled, thinking that the Stono River was no wider, that the current was slack at high tide, and that twelve minutes hence I could be back home. By the time I translated thought into action, Roberto Rufino’s assertion that the sky in his lover’s eyes gave him courage and chased away his suffering was beginning to sound hollow. An eternity later, I dragged myself, arms aching, onto my dock.
As I crossed the lawn towards my house, I noted that Sootie, the black bronze nude of Catalonian provenance reclining by the marshfront water-oaks, was smiling as always, non-committally. My phone, marinated in the brackish reality of low country waterways, and normally a dependable connection to all things relevant or otherwise, was dead. Maria would have to wait. I poured myself a gin and tonic and tuned into Budapest Radio’s classical tango stream. With timeliness worthy of Carl Jung’s synchronicity, “El Cielo en Tus Ojos” soothed the scream still echoing in my ears. Tomorrow to fresh woods, and pastures new.
Writer from Charleston in USA