Fiction & Poetry

Puddles

By Zahavah Rojer

There are puddles that go down into the earth forever, and you fell into one. At first, you didn’t realize that it was an unusual puddle other than the fact that it didn’t reflect sunlight so much as absorb it, like a small black hole in the middle of the sidewalk. Still, you suspected nothing as you placed your foot against its surface to walk across it.

You realized that something was very wrong when your whole leg sank suddenly into the liquid velvet of this neverending puddle. You tried to grab ahold of the ground around you, but this only stole what remained of your balance, and you went under completely.

Submerged by Havi Rojer
Art by Zahavah Rojer

Everything was dark around you within the puddle and you fell so slowly that it felt more like floating. You closed your eyes and opened them and realized that there was no difference between either action. You also began to realize that you shouldn’t have been breathing, since by any account you were now underwater. Yet, somehow, your lungs were filling with something too viscous to be oxygen and your breaths came evenly and calmly. You were almost shocked by how calm you felt, except that you couldn’t feel shock. There was a rush in your ears like the ocean, but deeper and softer. You were neither warm nor cool.

You weren’t sure if your eyes were open or closed, but in the blackness all around you, lights began to appear (all greens and purples and other colors you had no names for). As they drew closer to you, you realized, with a sudden clarity, that they were tiny organisms, each one transparent and glowing, covered in a clear, fuzzy down. They were each completely unique. Some had thousands of arms and some had none at all. One had a long, vine-like tail that it used to propel itself through the darkness, and another had a hundred wings down its back like a second spine.

You reached out a hand to try and touch one of these creatures. As you did, you realized they were not minuscule at all, but endlessly far away from you and gigantic. You felt, somewhere remote from your consciousness, fear; but it was felt by someone else you had once been long ago, and at that moment, you could feel only awe. The creatures swam in the nothingness around you that was somehow also everything. You knew then what pure joy was like, and it seemed you could stay forever frozen like that, just watching this whole universe that you had never even imagined.

But it was then that you felt yourself begin to fall faster, away from the creatures. You tried to shout to them. What could you have even said? You began to feel pain as you accelerated faster and faster and all around you the darkness was pierced by a blinding

blue.
You were falling, and then you were flying, no longer down but up and up and up and up into a cloudless sky, painfully bright. You closed your eyes and you could not breathe, although you were surrounded by oxygen.

And then, very suddenly, it all stopped. You felt cold, wet cement beneath your cheek. Slowly, you opened one eye and saw the sidewalk all around. You were lying in the puddle, and there was nothing strange about it. It was only still, murky water. You closed your eyes again and remembered the glowing creatures and the deep blackness around you only a few moments before. Behind your eyelids, quiet flickers of color swam in the dark, and you smiled softly.

Thank you to Prospect of Whitby Cooperative for including a question about puddles that go down into the earth forever in their application. You guys inspired me to write this piece, and I am really grateful for that!

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