I sucked on my lower lip. This was worse than surreal. This was...terrifying.
I looked down upon the valley...no, that was being too generous. This was an overgrown arroyo. The sides were somewhat steep, but there was a very large basin down below. The basin was broad and mostly flat save for the actual river in the middle. There was little brush, so the basin must flood regularly and powerfully, to sweep away any large would-be growths.
I knew this place. I had never been here, but I knew this place. This place had called to me. Had brought me. Had enticed me. Though I had never known it before. Save once. In a dream...but that had been three decades ago...
There in the broad, clear, shallow river were couples. They were impassioned and I wanted to avert my eyes. By all propriety I ought to have averted my gaze, but I could not. And for some reason, some voice deep from within screamed I should not: this was important! LOOK! SEE!
Something within wanted me to recognize what was happening here. I knew and must be made to believe. And that was crucial. Critical. Even of existential import. Something was telling me this could be where I ended.
All of the couples at some point seemed to submerge in the water. They all seemed to slowly sink within the river's wetness. Yet what happened next, I could not discern. There was no thrashing or violence. There seemed to be only passionate, if placid peace.
My intellect and my sense of alarm warred then. I needed to get closer to see. To understand. If I got closer, my intuition screamed, I may end. I would end. How could I know and warn others, my intellect rationalized, unless I went closer. All the while, whatever had drawn me here whispered and tempted and sang its syren song.
I made my way down the side of the basin. I was going to see.
The stroll to the water's edge was both in a daze and hyper aware. I seemed to note every detail. Every little thing. The ripples on the water. The long wild grass at my feet. The wind tussling my fine but thinning hair. The scent of something so alluring I could not even give it words. Yet, my sense of time slipped and slid. I was there. Then I was here. Then I was at the water's edge. My ability to bind the moments into a coherent memory, a story, an series of events seemed lost and gone, until I reached the water's edge.
There at the edge, I saw a woman. THE woman. The woman from my dream from when I was first discovering and observing and appreciating the transformation of girls from children into the ripeness and delicatebility of complete women, mind, body and soul.
This woman was the single most beautiful I'd ever seen. The most incredibly gorgeous, sexy and desirable. And here she was naked as the day she was born and staring up at me, smiling, waiting and obviously here for me. She said no words but I knew...
I had never known need like I felt in that moment. I needed to join her. I needed to enter into the wetness of the river with her. I needed her.
Her smile grew wider and more enticing...seductive...needing in her own complicated yet simple way.
I shook with its empathetic intensity. With her need. With mine. With the moment.
Some small bit still screamed and screamed and screamed from within. LOOK, YOU FOOL! LOOK AND SEE! COMPREHEND! USE WHAT YOU WERE BLESSED WITH, YOU IDIOT!
For a moment, I broke her gaze and looked around. I saw others shambling to the riverside. Men, women, others. Some met at the edge, shucked and took hands and entered the streaming waters. Sometimes the man waited in the water. Sometimes the woman did. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for who was waiting where. No plans. No malice. Just a pull to the river.
My breathing was heavy with need, with desire and the woman was perplexed at my hesitation. Yet my mind raced and I needed to know and see. It was important for some reason.
All the couples in the water, after a time, slipped below the surface. They seemed to slip and never surface. Yet there was no thrashing, no sense of violence. Just peace and love and need and tenderness.
My woman came closer to the edge of the slow moving river, rising a bit from the waters without ever completely leaving. My heart raised. Clarity of mind was ebbing. I knew what I ought to do.
I began to undress, my body almost in control of itself. My mind watching as though it were detached and not really there, like a film or a game. yet, I was. Yet I was going to enter the water. With her.
Then I saw. But it troubled me not. Or not enough to stop my stripping. The ripples in the water were the couples. They were ... changing. They seemed to be more like...fish. Were they mermaids? That was thrilling and alarming. I was no mermaid and mermaids had a history before the 20th century changed them to great singers and children's heroines.
I saw one couple fully transformed. They were fish, sensuously wrapping themselves around one another. Obviously still in the throws of passion, a delicate, tender passion though.
There was something more though...from the dream...as a teen.
Yet I continued. The yearning. The need. The drive to enter into the water and unite with this woman who was waiting for me in some way for 30 years was overwhelming. Whatever spell had its hold, whether biological or magical, would not release me. Or my mind. Or my needs.
I stepped into the water. One foot. Then another. Ankle deep only. It was the shallowest of spots. her smile grow to joyous. Not triumphant. Not vicious with victory. Pure and utter joy. As though her existence were complete and she was on the cusp of fulfilling her prefect destiny. And I was the key. And I made her feel as I had never been able to make any woman truly feel except in fleeting moments. I knew...I knew...she would feel this to the end of our days.
I took a step forward. She raised her arms.
I took another step. Deeper. Closer.
Then something floated by.
It was one of the fish. It was dead. It had spawned and died. A person had spawned and died. Like the salmon.
I looked up at her, her joy and horror warred with desire, potential fulfillment with shock, need with fear.
I saw. I knew. I understood.