Authors: Karina Halle
I tried to catch my breath
but the fright inside my chest was overpowering it. I was trapped,
trapped in a box. A mime’s worst nightmare.
Not only that, but the box
was filling with water. I felt the liquid tendrils crawling up my
legs and arms and saturating my back.
I started writhing and
fighting. I couldn’t keep it together any longer. I was in a box
and I was going to drown in here.
I started pounding my hands
against the top, hoping to break through. They were tired and
without much feeling. I felt a gush of warmth flowing from them. It
was my blood. It seeped freely from my tender knuckles and from the
wounds at my both my wrists. I didn’t care. I had to get out. If I
didn’t, I would die.
The water came in faster
now and it wasn’t long before I was slightly buoyant, rising above
whatever was below me. In seconds it would come over the tops of my
pants. My pants, where my front pocket felt tighter than
I quickly slipped my hand
into the pocket on a hunch. There was the lighter in there. Dex’s
I pulled it out and started
to flick it. My fingers were cold and clumsy and I almost dropped
it but after a few awkward attempts, the flame came alive, the
spark catching hold. I held it up and away. The weak, orange light
illuminated the space around me.
I was right. I was in a
box. It wasn’t just a box though. No, it wasn’t at all.
I swallowed hard, feeling
my world jar wildly with the incoming waves. I was in a coffin, set
adrift at sea.
Your ship has come in.” A
man’s voice echoed inside my head.
Amidst all the commotion,
among all the confusion over what had happened – I knew where I was
and why I was here. I wished I was alone. But I knew that wasn’t
true either. I knew that awkward, protruding, lumpy shape beneath
me spared me of that luxury.
My left hand slipped into
the water, gingerly feeling the bottom of the casket. Maybe the
only way out was through. I was careful to avoid what was directly
beneath me. I didn’t dare disturb
The water was up to my
chest now. I was running out of time and fast.
I placed my hand on the
bottom and tried to stabilize one part of me while I planned to
kick out with my legs, hoping that the splintery walls would give
Tiny, slimy fingers made
their way around my submerged wrist.
I screamed but it escaped
through my lips like a wordless gasp. The fingers tightened like a
tiny clamp and held my wrist down, drowning it.
Something shot out from the
water beside me and knocked the lighter out of my hands, enveloping
the casket in darkness again. My arm was seized by another
miniature grasp. It pulled at me roughly, holding me
I tried to move, to yell,
to fight, but the water’s chill had seized me like poison. I was
being held down, the water was rising and almost to my
Something moved beneath my
head. It came up close to my submerged ear. Someone whispered into
The voice was distorted and
muffled underwater. But it was unmistakable.
Mother!” it cried out,
cold, child lips brushing my earlobe.
I opened my mouth to scream
again but only found water. I took it in instead of air and let the
liquid saturate the life out of me.
Mother” it said, again and
again, until we were floating together and the world closed its
Though I tried to stay as
true to Navajo beliefs as possible, I have taken some fictional
liberties in this story. Regardless, skinwalkers are no laughing
I would like to thank my
parents and my friends (in particular Mollie Caselli, Kass Healy,
Wendy Kennedy, and Megan Caffery) for your support,
for inspiration, and the Vancouver Canucks for stealing this
book’s thunder on publication date. Too bad you messed that
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