DROWN
by Michael Devine
He skillfully stepped over the rail onto the
ledge of the bridge, the water rushing below. No need
to jump, he thought, just lean outward and fall, and
soon enough the water would come—an anodyne for
his loneliness, and the muted panes of glass through
which he experienced a joyless world. And so he
leaned.

Not too far upstream she pressed against the ferry’s
rail. Her world was not muted at all, her reality
relentless shards of glass. She couldn’t just fall
though—the illusion remained that there were those
who still cared holding on. She needed to break free
from this phantom grip; she needed to jump. And so
she jumped.

These events occurred a few minutes apart, and as
they both descended below the water line, their world
started to fade, just as they had planned. But then
something grabbed them with a jerk—a violent
undertow—and much to their dismay, they were back.

This wasn’t an ordinary undertow, but one that pulled
its subjects deep into the water to an underwater
cave that had not been visited for over one thousand
years, since its creation. But as luck would have it,
the cave would have two visitors today.

His head emerged into the cave from one of the pools
of water that communicated with the outside, gasping
for breath. She broke the surface a few minutes later.
They pulled themselves up and out, and sat on the
floor, sulking. Both were angry that they were still
alive; and not only that, they were not alone.

They soon realized the cave was actually a relatively
pleasant place—it was warm, lighted, and had
abundant air. There were no apparent sources for
these amenities, but they realized there was no need
to waste time questioning these things or how this
place came to be. There was spelunking to be done.

They ignored each other as they began to explore. In
addition to the main room—which was expansive and
had a cathedral ceiling—there were innumerable
passageways to multiple smaller enclaves. Each
enclave had something unique to offer, such as orbs
of energy and light, musical vibrations, and rooms of
pure color.

For a long while they continued this solo exploration,
but as they happened to pass each other more and
more, they began to exchange small talk. Eventually
this led to more significant exchanges, and soon they
were spending more time together than alone.

They decided that they should join forces and use the
main room as their base. They set up two beds, one
on either side of the room and called it home. As time
passed, the beds inched together slowly, until
eventually they were one. After that they spent as
much time exploring their minds and bodies as they
did exploring their world.

One day they were playing a game as they were
prone to do, tossing stones toward the center of the
room, attempting to make their throw as close as
possible to the last stone to land. The stones began to
pile up. They looked at this pile and they both had the
same thought: gather stones and add to the pile, not
by tossing them, but carefully placing them with the
whole in mind.

They continued working a little bit every day. As the
pile grew, they put even more effort into working
their stones’ intricate complementary shapes into
tight pleasing fits. It eventually grew many feet high,
to the point where neither felt safe to climb. There
came a moment where they both stopped building and
looked at each other: it was done. And it wasn’t just a
muddy abstract pile of rocks: it was a statue.

At first glance it didn’t seem like much, but as they
walked around holding hands they could see it wasn’t
just one thing, but a variety of creatures. At one
angle it was a bust of a bear, but move slightly over
and you could see a dolphin rising from the waves.
And as they circled a snake revealed itself in the
grass, followed by a howling wolf under a blood moon,
segueing into a pair of songbirds in an embrace.

This continued. And as they completed the circle and
took in all they could see, they looked at each other
and began to cry. Slowly at first, but soon the tears
began to fall with the force of a waterfall. Through the
tears they kept their gaze into each other’s eyes and
were oblivious as the water began to rise above their
ankles.

The flow continued unabated, engulfing them in a
warm sea of tears. They floated toward the ceiling in
each other’s arms. They continued to rise, and soon
they were above the statue. Finally, their heads
encroached the ceiling. And as the room filled
completely, and there were no air pockets left, they
kissed and became one. And they were both able to
finally do what they set out to do: drown.


Michael Devine works as a hospital pathologist in Detroit. He self
published his first collection of darkly humorous short stories and
flash fiction this year called Monkeybait. He is working on his
second collection titled Voodoo Chicken which features elements
of horror, magical realism, Bizarro fiction, and poetry. As a self-
taught artist he has participated in numerous shows in the Detroit
area and has curated over 30 large group shows.
DECEMBER 2019