Under the river

Our village lies about a turbulent river which roils and boils and flashes with the fires of hell as it sucks and swells and threatens to dispossess us of our homes.

The river draws us and so we build ever nearer to its banks while its slick, oily density groans and wallows with malice, repelling us and forcing us to surround our abodes with living fences made of the sturdy, giving willow.

When you cross the Bridge of Peace in winter, the fences are naked and shivering, frost glistening like tears between the close cuddles of their woven branches, while in spring their supple boughs, with their virgin leaves, tremble as though in the grip of a fever.

There are other bridges that traverse the dark swell: the Bridge of Hope, the Bridge of Pity, the Bridge of Watchfulness and the Bridge of Sorrow, and as we cross them, we touch the sturdy stone walls rimed with lichen and offer a prayer to the heavens.

No-one swims the river; no-one in living memory has ever swum the river, but today I shall go in and brave its murky depths, for a parchment was found in the cloisters of the old monastery, hidden deep within the crumbling wall, bound in oilskins and sealed in a lead lined box with sealing wax.

The withered parchment speaks of a trench below the torrid water that; it (apparently) runs with the sweet tears of the Goddess Daphne which, when breached, will rid the river of its demons.

And I am the one to breach it

Today I die, for I know that the boundary between the two has already been compromised and Daphne’s tears were boiled dry years ago by the stinking stretch that awaits my life.