The body in the water stirred as little eddies and currents flowed in and out. A grey coyote came cautiously down to the water’s edge. He got closer, jerking away each time the body moved. The coyote stood still a moment, when there was no further movement, it moved closer and sniffed the thing. The animal stepped back, its golden/brown eyes bright in the nighttime light. Moving away, it drank some water, retreated and paused again. Lifting its head, it howled into the night. A frog croaked and jumped into the stream, a night bird squawked, and the coyote slunk into the night. The body continued to float.
In the soft night air there was a slight movement, a glimmering. A grey shadow, almost diaphanous in nature appeared and seemed to float above the water. The form moved slowly, and approached Elu, still face up in the water. The figure was in a loose cloak that went to the ground and had long sleeves. A hood was up over the head. A passerby would not have been able to see the face, if they would even have noticed what appeared to be no more than another shadow.
The figure was above Elu and bent over. One knobby old finger extended out of the cloak and touched Elu on the face. The finger pushed into her cheek. Further and further the finger pushed until it seemed to disappear under her skin. The shadow spoke. “Awake, Elu, awake.” The finger pulled away from her skin and the figure paused in the air. The Ghost of Sabino Canyon had spoken.
Elu tossed her head back and forth feebly and then suddenly, her eyes popped open. She tried to focus. She thought she saw something, a shadow, something leaning over her but then it disappeared. Was she dreaming? She could hear voices.
“She might be in the water down here,” she heard the deep voice of a man talking, shouting to others. “The water could have moved her.” There were voices of other people in the background.
“I’m here,” she croaked, but the sound was so low. She paused to take a breath, then leaning back with all her strength she yelled, “Here.”
There was a crashing through the brush and big hands grabbed her. “She’s here. Get the paramedics, she’s hurt!” the man shouted to others.
Elu closed her eyes again and sighed into the water.
“Where’s the boyfriend?”
“He’s still talking to the cops.”
“I bet,” said another.
Soon big men were around her and were shoving a long board under her body. She was strapped to the board and lifted up. There were bright lights and she had to clamp her eyes shut. She was jostled up the short hill until the men got to an ambulance. The board was lifted and gently pushed onto a rack in the vehicle. More hands were laying warm blankets over her body. She felt a needle pushed into her arm. The ambulance siren went on and the vehicle turned and went down the hill. Elu passed out again.
She didn’t know how long she was out. When she came to she was lying in a bed, in a hospital obviously as she was in hospital pajamas and covered with several blankets. The light in the room was dim. She was hooked up to IV’s and other machines. The machines beeped quietly in the background. It was like a warm cocoon. There was someone sitting by her bed. She turned her head a little, not much, because it hurt so much.
It was Elena. “Ma.” Elu rasped out.
Her mother stood up suddenly and grabbed her hand. “Elu, you’re alive. Oh, thank God.” Her mother started crying.
“What happened?” Elu asked. “I was standing on the bridge, and then I fell in…”
“You fell off the bridge and hit your head. The water carried you away. Sebastian got help. Search and Rescue found you. You’ve been in the hospital since.”
“Three days,” her mother answered.
“Three…how is little Sally? Mom, tell me she’s okay.”
“She’s fine darling,” her mother patted her arm. “Daniel is at your place and he is watching her. I think they are both having a good time.”
“But his job at the school…”
“It’s okay, Elu. The astronomy department can live without him a few days. Those stars aren’t going anywhere.”
A sense of relief swept over Elu and she started to cry. Her mother grabbed a box of Kleenex and patted the tears.
“Mom, the strangest thing happened…”
Her mother looked at her.
“I saw something out there…”
“I don’t know for sure. Maybe like a person, but not a person, more like a shadow.”
“Well, you did hit your head pretty hard.”
“Yeah, I know,” Elu gingerly touched the top of her head, now covered in bandages. “But, I heard it. It spoke to me. I mean, not in words, I didn’t hear it hear it…”
Her mother looked confused.
“It…it touched my face and then I could hear it in my head.”
“What did it say?”
“It told me to wake up.” She turned and stared at her mother. Her mother stared back.
“Maybe…maybe you received a visitation.”
“Yes, it doesn’t happen very often and not to too many people.”
“What do you think it means, Ma?”
“Maybe you weren’t supposed to die.”
There was silence in the room. Neither spoke for a while, letting the information sink in.
“The police have been asking that young man a lot of questions about the whole thing.”
“But he went to get help,” Elu reasoned.
“Yes, he did. But…I guess they are still not happy with his account of how things happened.”
“Hmm,” Elu laid back and closed her eyes. Her mother sat back down in her chair.
“I think I’m going to go to sleep again, Ma. I’m kind of tired.”
Her mother patted her hand again. “No problem, baby, no problem. You just get better.”
As Elu floated off to sleep again, she added a note to her mental list. No more visits with Sebastian, no more reconciliations and no more hiking. She was going to have to speak with that lawyer again.