This writing was taken from “The Black River,” the latest manuscript written by Jovon Scott and edited by Larry L. Franklin. This is a new type of writing for Jovon, an inmate in an Illinois Correctional Center.
THE BLACK RIVER
LARRY L. FRANKLIN
Victoria watched as the rough-water moved into the riverbank. The sun had retired for the day as the river gave birth to short bursts of waves that threatened the shore. Mother Nature’s elements of tranquility and destruction were on full display. Victoria’s eyes pierced the water’s surface that guarded the riverbed, allowing her to see the river that snaked through pastures and open plains. Barricades dared not to confine its flow.
When Victoria was young, large bodies of water threatened her well-being. So much so that she barred herself from diving into the mysteries that lie below the river’s surface. Time revealed the reason for her fears. Someone or something lived in the darkened waters, prepared to cause her harm. But don’t blame Victoria for having a dysfunctional childhood and an overly creative mind. Her brain was hardwired to think irrationally.
Something was off that day; a gut-wrenching and unnerving kind of off. Victoria blamed herself for what happened when she met Chanel at the river. While all of the signs were there, it was a time of confusion when 2 equals 1.
“Are you scared?” Chanel asked. “You’re shaking.”
Victoria knew that she was afraid. As the two of them stood on the edge of the bank watching the currents race by, there was an eerie silence. Victoria didn’t know why, but she had told Chanel that she wasn’t afraid.
Chanel had an energy about her that was quite alluring; an adrenaline junkie who danced along the edges of danger. Each adventure was accompanied by a spiritual energy as if she was suddenly reborn.
Although Victoria didn’t know what was about to happen, her breathing was labored and her heart was on fire. She grabbed Chanel’s hands that were cold and unwelcoming as if she had touched a stranger. They faced each other; so close that their heartbeats were in unison. As their lips touched, Victoria was reminded of the passion that burned deep into their soul; eyes that told a forbidden tale; spellbound and persuaded by the words that were never spoken; and private things withheld from the world.
Chanel’s demeanor morphed into an emptiness disconnected from reality. Is this the person who Victoria had known to be Chanel, or was she an illusion?
“Do you love me?’ Chanel questioned. She gripped Victoria’s hand tighter as if she dared her to lie.
“Of course, I love you,” Victoria answered. But the grip of Chanel’s hand was different, causing Victoria to wonder if Chanel had become a complete stranger. At the moment, Victoria did not fear the river. She was more afraid of the entity she perceived to be Chanel.
“Why would you ask if I loved you?” Victoria asked.
“Because I need to know,” Chanel answered.
“Yes, I love you. But you know that already. You’re acting strange and freaking me out,” Victoria admitted.
Chanel’s laugh was accompanied by a sinister smile. “If you love me, jump, jump into the river,” Chanel commanded. “Love is all about trust, right?”
“I will drown,” Victoria replied. “I can’t swim, you know that.”
“Trust me,” Chanel explained.” I would never allow anything bad to happen to you.”
Victoria felt overcome by emotions knowing that she needed to escape before it was too late. While she remembered fragments of what happened that day, she preferred to believe that Chanel pushed her into the river. Given Victoria’s fear of the river, that made more sense. But reality told a different story. Victoria jumped into the river.
Stupidity is oftentimes driven by ignorance, a compelling force that causes us to defy logic. Perhaps a need to display her courage was why Victoria jumped into the river; maybe it was love interlinked with confusion.
A blind fondness accompanied by faith creates the foundation for love. But reckless love ignores your core, leaving you to think only of the image you desire; the one that caused Victoria to jump into the river.
Chanel stood on the shore watching Victoria struggle to evade the adversary she had feared since her childhood — drowning in the river. Most people who fear the possibility of death by drowning, stay away from large bodies of water. But not Victoria, she jumped into the river.
Victoria’s attempts to scream were muffled by the sheer volume of water. Her mind held no clarity or reasoning for what was happening. She felt the burning sensation a body experiences when its lungs take on water. The image of the river changed as she began to accept her fate. The deeper parts were calm and without motion, unlike the chaotic movements of the river’s surface. The struggle to survive diminished as her body sank towards the river’s floor.
Victoria remembered seeing Chanel through the water’s surface; lips parted and a smile on her face. At that moment, Victoria’s life ended, and her heart no longer beat; not from drowning but from a broken heart. Chanel had killed Victoria before the water filled her lungs and cut off her oxygen supply.
Victoria then saw a more peaceful world filled with the natural beauty of the water and the private sanctuary where her body embraced the river’s floor. She looked up through the surface and saw Chanel standing at the water’s edge. No longer angry, Victoria accepted her fate as she saw the two of them standing side by side; both one-in-the-same, when 2 equals 1.