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It was pitch black, accentuated in random intervals by cracks of lightening that shook the sky angrily. The water was freezing cold, pushing against her body as she moved through it, rising and falling to obscure her vision. The rain beat down on her, pelting her head and face with stinging drops, adding to the chill.
The boat in front of her was rocking, the waves high and the thunder deafening. Bette moved through the chest high water desperately, her hands moving frantically to find her way, the speed of her passage hampered by the wind, the rain, the storm. Flashes of light showed her the boat, the reeds, the bobbing of a colorful life jacket.
There. There. Just out of her reach. She waded further, panic rising in her throat her breathing labored, her tears hot. The boat knocked her over, her head going under, knocking the wind out of her. She swallowed the river, her lungs filling, dread threatening to overtake her.
She was under the water now, losing her footing, bubbles rising as she tried to stand, disoriented. The sound of thunder muffled by the water. She rose in a gasp, the jacket farther away now, moving towards shore. She gave one last push, her legs pumping to move her closer. Her shaking hand reached for the jacket, reaching, reaching to pull hard… only to come up empty as it dangled from her fingers, the straps blowing in the wind, no body attached, no life in the jacket.
“No-no-no-no…” she moaned, sobbing, sinking to her knees, now on the bank as her legs and hands hit the sand, the water lapping at her feet. “Tina…”
Faint, distant cries reached her ears and she tried to stand, searching wildly around for the source of the cry.
“Bette… Bette…” Tina. Where? The sounds grew louder, more insistent. She started digging, digging in the sand. It was heavy, unmoving. Tina was here somewhere, if only she could be fast enough, strong enough, good enough….if only…
“Bette, wake up. It’s a dream, only a dream…. Baby, I’m right here…”
Bette sat up, her hands clenching the sheets, sweat pouring down her face, her shirt soaked. One hand reached to grasp Tina’s hand; her grip tight. “Tee. Tina. My God….you’re here…”