“You need to look where you’re going,” Sulian said.
“I see fine with my hands. Your shouting distracted me.”
“We’ll train a dog to guide her,” Amite said, “like poor blind Kisiku before he died.
Seeing through water never got easier. I spent that first winter and summer persuading myself I’d seen through worse. Through smoke that wrung tears from singed faces as we fled the camp, belongings clutched to our chests. Through brined fog as we paddled away from the musket fire and unwashed stench of English soldiers. Through snow that blew in sideways and threatened to capsize us before our numb feet stumbled onto the pebbled landwash. Those I could push through, eyelids clenched. They didn’t bear on me with the blinding weight of so much water.
When the ice melts and the eel start to spawn, the depths above me turn clear. Window glass broken and bent by the breeze that ripples the surface. If I gaze upward through that warped pane, I will glimpse the distant blue light of sky. Blurred whisper of a life forgotten, reawakening the urge to breathe. To suck air through my nose and mouth, fill the space that was once my lungs. It never goes away, attacking as the lake bears down on me worse than the heaviest iceberg.
After so many years crushed by the weight of water, I understand why ice floats.
Jason Pearce is a Toronto-based fiction writer who first joined the Alexandra Writer’s Centre Society in 2003. Jason’s short stories have appeared in various literary journals and anthologies, including Grain and Knucklehead Noir (Coffin Hop Press, 2019). The Heaviness of Water is a novella in progress.