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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 8 page 01

fiction

lake, moon, and shore

Midnight Swim, Part 1

by Elga Mannik

Alexandra took a deep breath and plunged into the icy water. The shock was instant. Her leftover drug-induced grogginess vanished in a flash as she rose quickly to the dark surface. She had escaped. That was all that mattered. If she didn’t drown first, she might just make it. The bed sheet she was wearing got tangled around her. She clawed at the waterlogged material, swallowing an unwanted mouthful of water but finally she cast off the shroud. She was free to kick to the shore. Naked, frozen, but alive, she crawled onto the stony beach on all fours looking for a place to hide.

Seconds later, she saw the headlights of a car. It was him. The monster. She heard the vehicle skidding in at full speed to the opposite shore. He sprang from the car and a flashlight bounced a small light across the water. The beam came to rest on the sheet that was still partially floating. Would he think she had drowned? She pulled herself deeper into the grasses and shrubs lining the lakeshore. She rubbed herself all over to bring back circulation, and then once more to cover herself in mud. Her skin was so white. Please, God, don’t let him see me. She could see his silhouette on the opposite bank pacing before the headlights. Finally, in a show of anger, he cursed and hurled the flashlight into the lake. He jumped back in the car and sped away.

Phew, that was close, Alexandra thought. Now, let’s get out of here. Wherever ‘here’ is.

There was an old garbage bag tangled in the bushes. She straightened it out and ripped a hole for her head and arms. There, she thought, now I’m not completely bare and this will keep me warm. Those Girl Guide survival skills will finally come in handy. Thanks, mama, for making me go to those meetings.

He wouldn’t give up. They both knew that. He couldn’t because he wasn’t sure that she had drowned. He would be back at first light and she planned to be long gone. Hunger gnawed at her belly. She hadn’t eaten for two days. She scooped up some cold water from the lake and drank greedily.

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