(This is part two of this story.)
She stayed in the creek until her toes were coated with silt and her fingertips were wrinkled and grey. Her mouth, still covered in red lipstick, was just at the water’s silver-grey surface, and she blew out little puffs of air to make a motorboat sound. She had grown slightly bored, restless, and cold. Her body had been submerged for long enough that all her previous thoughts of escape were carried away in the creek’s gentle current. Super-saturated, she was ready to exit the cool cocoon of the water and walk home.
She waded to the shore, her cotton nightgown heavy around her middle, and climbed up the muddy bank and up to the damp grass. The fabric of her nightgown bunched and wrinkled around her body in rippling waves, ice-cold and stuck against her breasts and thighs, and she was grateful that her walk home was short.
When she reached the cabin she was shivering and pushed the door open slowly so as not to wake him. The cabin was quiet to her after the noisiness of the forest at night; the rushing creek and the roaring cicadas were replaced with the rustle of the fire and the rhythm of her husband’s soft snores.
She peeled off her wet nightgown and laid it out on the stone hearth to warm and dry beneath the fire, and crawled underneath the down comforter and quilt that her husband was sleeping beneath. His body was warm and hers was still so cold, so she wrapped her arms around his body and buried her face next to his neck. He stirred and rolled over to face her, but in his sleep-drunk state he didn’t ask why her hair was wet or where she had been. He only kissed her deeply, his and his eyes when they opened were glazed over in a dream. They made love quickly, his heat melting the ice of her skin, and she felt small and magical, like a river dryad, a fairy, the Lady of the Lake. Her kisses were filled with a passion she rarely felt in the daytime.
In the morning he rose before her and saw bits of wet leaves on the sheets and the still damp nightgown in a heap on the hearth. He started to shake her shoulder to wake her up, and ask where she had gone in the night or if it had rained. He thought better of it. The morning sun was streaming through the cabin’s only window, and it bathed her face and brown hair in its butter-yellow light. Let her sleep, he thought, before putting the kettle on the fire for their coffee.