See You Later, Alligator
I pushed the flat rubber bottom of my kayak ahead of me into the ribbon of black and jumped aboard. The thing always wobbled a little but it never tipped. I sliced through the reflection of the sky on the water, the sound of moving liquid the only thing I heard mingle with the rub of my arms along my rough life jacket.
One bend ate up the shore, and big bald cypress seemed to float their massive trunks on the aqueous surface, anchored to nothing more than flimsy H2O. I took my time, letting the edges of the water soothe my own rough parts. Even the blackest water can wash a soul clean.
The creek folded back on itself in a loop, sending me floating into the sun. I squinted against the glare pounding an undulating ring up ahead. A hot breeze hit me in the face, and I choked on the smell.
Something, somewhere was dead.
I knew the stench of rotting flesh. It still overtook me in flashing nightmares. The time my step-daddy bashed in my hound dog‘s head with the butt of a rifle for peeing at the foot of his favorite chair. I scooped up his broken body and hid it him in my bedroom. Under my bed. For a whole week.
I knew how death distorted a thing, how its hideous grip erased everything a person once loved, made it a mockery.
The tidal current swept me onward, too strong for me to fight my way back, to come again another day. That black water sucked me even deeper into the pulsing ring of stench, a smell so powerful its molecules danced with life in the heavy air. Choking, I stopped paddling and pinched my nose together, but the stink crawled into my open mouth when I breathed in, stung my lungs, threatened to turn them to stone.
I watched something bob on the surface of the water in front of me. Its arms and legs spread out like stubs, floating face down, gobbled up by the dark liquid.
I never thought smelling death could kill me.
Maybe I was wrong.
This week’s series of fiction is set in historic Black Mingo Swamp. To start the series at the beginning, click here. To read more about the history of Black Mingo, click here. Thank you for reading, for commenting and for sharing my blog.