In the deep, wet tangled, wild jungle where even natives won't go is a mystical, dangerous river. The river's got no name because naming it would make it real and no one wanted to believe that river be real. They say you get there only inside a dream-but don't you think of it at bedtime, now, 'cause not everyone who goes there be able to leave! That jungle canopy, it so leafy true daylight can never break in the riverbank, it be wet muck thick with creatures that eat you alive if you stay still too long. To miss that fate, you gots to go into the black water. But the water be heavy as hot tar; once you in, it bind you and pull you along, bit by bit, 'til you come to the end of the land and then over the water goes in a dark, slow cascade, the highest falls in the history of the world ever. There be demons in that cascading water and snakes and wraiths that whisper in your ears. They love you, they say. You should give yourself to them, stay with them, become one of them, they say. 'Isn't it good here?' they say. 'No pain, no trouble.' But also no light and no love and no joy and no ground. You tumble and tumble as you fall and you try and choose, but your mind be topsy-turvy and maybe you can't think so well and maybe you can't choose right and maybe you never wake up. It felt like that, I tell Tootsie, even after you got me out and Scott moved me to Highland. I couldn't choose. I couldn't shut out the wraiths...But you would say, 'Hang on, sweetie,' and Scottie would say, 'I miss you, Mama,' and Scott would hold me, just hold me and say nothing at all. Tootsie snorts. Scott was useless the whole while. Scott was in the river, too.
Therese Anne Fowler