She plays in the shallows, always just beneath the surface.
Find her near the mud banks of a shrunken lake. She is swimming among the weeds, happy to be free.
Nothing can move her. Not like it used to. She has felt her share of sadness and would rather keep her head up, locked on the sun.
She survives because of the sun, The Great Giver, The Cruel Taker, the light that shines over entire worlds. Water lets her breathe easy.
Water will never be pure again, but she has learned to tolerate the detritus in her home. Plastic containers and threatening blobs of waste and oil still float around her, whether she’s stagnant as pond water or perfecting her backstroke.
But at last, no more will be added to the pile. The pipelines have stopped. The disposal has long ended. The toxins need to be broken down, but all that takes is time.
Everything decomposes over time.
She smiles more now, though no one can see her face. Her hair floats behind her, a carefree aquatic contrail.
The world is actually a beautiful place when you’re not destroying it. And it’s not destroying you.
Just open your eyes. She tells herself this every time she grows tired of dreaming. Breathe in deep. Look to the sun for enrichment. Know your responsibility to the world.
Because the world, as graceful a host as it may be, will always give back what it receives.
Since Riley Huff was a young child, when he started folding and stapling together pieces of paper to create miniature books at the age of four, he has loved the power and the folly of the written word. He has contributed articles to Creative Loafing, DoTheBay, and 440 Magazine; fiction to Balderdash Literary Review; and poetry to the anthology 2020: An Anthology of Poetry with Drawings from Black Dog and One-Eyed Press. He is a journalist, poet, comedian, and horror-movie screenwriter based in San Francisco, CA.