Here's a little drabble for the prompt "River" on the who-contest community, on LiveJournal. 546 words, just under the 550-word limit. Enjoy! :)
After the hotel, she goes trekking.
The wanderlust is still itching beneath her skin, and she needs to be alone. Rory understands. She tells him last-minute, because she doesn't want to see the look in his eyes as he helps her prepare; he opens his mouth for a second, then closes it, and nods.
She kisses him, hard. Her long fingers are clinging to his shoulders, she finds, her body leaning into his like he's an anchor. He cannot anchor her; not yet. Next, she lets go, cracks a joke and tosses her hair like everything is fine. He gives her a small smile, quite small.
She remembers that smile as she treads the forest. Then the thought slips her mind like all others.
For a while, she just walks. The air is cool underneath the arching canopy, sunlight slipping through to dapple the path that winds ahead of her. The ground is uneven and rough, branches snapping underfoot or slapping her arms, her face as she passes. Welcoming the challenge, she pushes onwards. At first she is calm, simply purposeful. Then she is shoving trees and the trail twists and mocks her anyhow, so she leaves it. She climbs over roots and jumps past fallen logs, fists tight, braced to kick out.
It grows darker with the density of those woods, pressing down on her from all sides. For a while she appears to progress into deeper and deeper obscurity, until she stumbles out into a clearing, unforeseen. There the sun is showing its face again, the trees less intent to tangle and obscure the light. Silver-pale and gurgling, a river wanders a few feet ahead, amongst some rocks.
She trudges nearer, and kneels. The water touches her hand like a cool, murmuring presence. It flows past as her fingers curl into elusive current, offering but passing relief. It is clear, and beautiful, and rushing off to sea—to lands unknown to her, through paths she can't picture.
The low, secretive song of it makes her want to scream.
I bore her in me. I called her Melody.
Amy sheds her clothes. Shaking and white in the half-light, she steps into the current warily. The cool stream nips her ankles, swallows her legs and rises all the way to her belly. She dives, already airless and light-headed.
When she bursts again through the surface, water is running down her cheeks and her hair sticking to her head. Desperately, she gulps for oxygen, squeezes her eyes shut against the pounding of emptiness in lungs, temples and bones.
Her fingers are yearning to reach, to cling—her mind whirls in circles. Time is linear again, normal. Scattered across its flow, she has a daughter, never born in her time, never carried, never held. A dream.
She could drown; she struggles her way back to the rocks, instead. Old stone feels soothing as a constant thing, polished by the water's touch. It scratches her bare skin as she carelessly pushes upwards.
Standing again, she spins aimlessly. Overhead, the sky turns. The moment has her, moving fixedly forward, its course unchangeable. The help she needs no imaginary friend can provide.
This is real. This is now. This is her.
The river runs, and Amelia Pond rubs away her tears.