By Clare Rolens

Her eyes gave me a start when I saw them staring at me from under the clear surface of the water. There she lay, the girl who ran away from home so long ago, and drowned in a shallow stream. I saw the story in the news, but I never thought I’d see the poor girl with my own eyes. Though still and lifeless she is perfectly preserved, looking as she did then. I stand with my feet in the same cool water that rushes over her face; she looks a little like me, I think, back before it all happened, back when I still had the clean lines of a young woman. But her eyes, those look more like my eyes now—staring out without wandering, unaffected by what passes before them. An old sight has fixed her gaze thus, and that old sight is all she sees. I wait for her to acknowledge me, to say hello, as if to a friend. She wouldn’t have to stir or sit up, she could just fix her eyes on me, and I’d know the greeting. But then I remember she died long ago, that it’s silly to think of a dead woman looking at a live one. Ghosts aren’t real, and besides, she’s the opposite of a ghost: body left over, spirit dissolved and rushed out to sea.

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Clare Rolens is an English Professor and one of the faculty advisors for Bravura, Palomar College’s literary journal. Her academic writing has appeared in Callaloo and Arizona Quarterly, and her flash fiction is forthcoming in Vestal Review and Litbreak Magazine. Born in California and a resident of sunny San Diego, she suffers from fernweh, the opposite of homesickness. She can currently be found happily making dinner or reading a detective story.

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