Short Story
                                      The Water Found Him
                                                                    By Sara McNallen


    He never liked water; it always made him nervous, even in the bath, even a drink of water made him feel
as though he is drowning. He tried his damndest to cope with his fear, but nothing worked. He was never
one of those people who became a hermit crab or paranoid of the world, he just began to drink his fears
away. He never wanted anyone to know that he was afraid of something that was one of the ultimate
necessities in life.

    He began to go to AA meetings, which ironically is near the ocean at his coach’s house. It made him
antsy when he heard the waves crashing as though the water was slowly getting closer and closer to where
he was. While standing, he did his spiel about who he was, and what he’s been doing to try to stop
drinking, he would pause every couple of minutes looking at the ocean, each time trying to calm himself as
he spoke to the crowd of alcoholics.

    Every time one offers to swim in the ocean, he declines saying that it is a long drive home. Though
truthfully his house is a couple blocks away.

    No one questions it. He tries not to wonder if they know about his fear, as he drives home and quickly
showers. But he soon thinks of course not, because they would not have asked.

                                                                                    _

    Even he does not understand his fear. It is as though he has blocked a horrible memory out of his mind.
And going towards or trying to figure it out, will only destroy him.

                                                                                    _

    This fear of water is apparently common; it is both a need and an ultimate demise. You have to have it,
yet drink too much or fall into a pool and sink, your lungs take hold of the water and slowly but surely kills
you.

    He reads self-help books about facing your fears, but he does not believe it is working. It seems more
like the book was mocking-making fun of him. Yet he read the books anyway hoping at least one thing
from the book would say something to him and help him with his fear and get him on a new path that he
can love the water.

    Going back to his AA meeting, he heard all the same names and all the same stories. Until this woman
walked in, her walk was fluid as though she was a model of some sort. She reminded him of water, the
way that she would speak and walk very fluidly and calmly.

    Yet this new woman, this strange woman intrigued him. He had this urge, this desire to know more
about her. He wanted to be with her at all times. Though he was intrigued and frightened by this all at the
same time, he had this feeling that she could help him with his fear.

    Once again, one of them offered to go swimming in the ocean, and once again he declined. She
however did not. She was already undressing and running towards the ocean the same way she walked
into the meeting.

    He drove home and sat on his couch. Tempted to call his therapist (who even after two years, still could
not figure out his problem with water,) and tell him he may have found help. However, he did not; he did not
want to give himself and his therapist false hope. Mostly because he was unsure it would work.

    Asking her out of everyone else to help him with his problem, may be weird considering that he did not
know her that well, at first he thought it would work out, then his mind went to the negatives. She would
laugh in his face or tell everyone. When he went again to the next AA meeting, he sat next to her. They
already met yet he introduced himself to her. Then he said,

    “Can you keep a secret?”

    She nodded.

    He trusted her.

    He whispered when they left the room and knew they were out of ear shot.

    “I want you to help me. I’m afraid of water.” He waited for her to laugh or say are you kidding?

    “What do you want me to do?”

    “Help me get over my fear.”

    “Okay. But you can’t leave after. You must stay.”

    “Fine.”

    Time passed, people spoke, he said his spiel one more time and the meeting was over. No one
offered this time.

    He got a little nervous. Normally they say that they should all go for a swim. Did someone hear? Did she
say something?

    His trust for her never faltered even if he did think she may have told.

    While everyone left, they cautiously went to the ocean.

    She stepped in, while he slowly shuffled to where she stopped.

    “No rush.” She said.

    Though he knew she must be thinking something else. He finally made it to the edge of the ocean.
However, he could not seem to place himself in it. She got out, and put a hand on his shoulder.

    “Next time. Baby steps my friend.”

    He smiled.

                                                                                    _

    He really liked her. Her calmness pleased him. He at least made it to the edge of the ocean. Next time
he will be able to get in the ocean.

                                                                                    _

    He started to the ocean once again, and then slowly puts one foot in, but something backfires. He
begins to hyperventilate and she is at his side holding onto him and saying to breathe slowly.

                                                                                    _

    Something about her was different. He could not put his finger on it. She was always so calm, so
peaceful. It begins to bug him, yet he still wants to be around her.

                                                                                    _

    The AA meeting begins and she calmly speaks and as she speaks he hears something like water
gurgling in her throat, her voice. He is no longer listening to her words, but wondering why she sounds like
that when he has never heard it before.

    He decided to not try again. But to go home. He obviously is in the meeting for a reason because once
he got home he pulled a beer from the fridge. Opens it and begins to drinks it.

    But he can’t seem to swallow it.

    Soon he feels water coming up his throat; he rushes to the sink and sees beer and water pour out of his
mouth. It doesn’t seem to stop. It just keeps flowing out.

    Beer and water, water and beer.

    All he could do was make noises, but he did hear the door open.

    She walked in.

    The woman he trusted, the woman he told his secret to.

    She smiled, walked up to him and said, “It will all be over soon. You see, I already knew about your fear.
The ocean’s been waiting so patiently, and when you bluntly told me of your fear, I knew I found you.”

    He did not understand. Who was this woman, and why did she just tell him everything?

    “You are mine.” she said, now watching the final pound of liquid quickly flow out of his mouth, grabbed
him and pulled him towards the ocean.

    “Who’s next?’ she said, manically laughing.
About Sara McNallen

Sara McNallen is a writer
of short fiction, novels,
and poetry. She lives in
San Antonio, TX. She
enjoys the darker side of
stories that can inspire
new poems, novels, or
short stories. This is her
second publication in
Blood Moon Rising
Magazine.
To read other short stories,
click one of the titles below.