Under Another Sun
2020 Ravynn Bradley

"The world is falling down.” Ravynn had no idea what had urged that from her lips. She slumped in the backseat of her parents’ station wagon as it crossed the bridge to take them home. A sense of melancholy gripped her and wouldn’t let go. She wished her twin brother Ray was with her. He always understood her the way only twins could.

Ravynn belched and swallowed down the taste of bile. She cranked the window down all the way. Placed her arm on the window frame, set her head on her arm, and sucked in the fresh wind that raced at her face and caused her to squint into the night. Her raven-colored hair danced and flipped over her face in the cooling air. The lazy moon tried and failed to slip its light through the hazy clouds above.

“What was that?” Her dad called back. She caught his eyes in the rearview, brows raised in question.

“I—”

She never did get to answer him.

A woman stood in the middle of the road. Dark hair shrouded her face, and she wore nothing but a thin, white gown. The aura surrounding her was like she’d stolen the light from the moon itself. Ravynn saw the woman’s lips moving, but there was no way she could’ve heard what she uttered. Yet, in her ear, like a whisper, Ravynn heard the woman say, “A crack in time saves ninety-nine.”

Headlights from up ahead stunned her, momentarily blinding her to everything- her father, the woman, the road- all of it swallowed up by the lights.

Her mother cried out from the passenger’s seat, “It’s in our lane!”

Ravynn’s father slammed on the brakes and yanked the wheel to the right as he tried to avoid both striking the woman in the road, and the car coming straight at them. The force sent her smacking into the back of the driver’s seat, then spilled her onto the floor of the car as it skidded off the side of the road.

The tires screamed in a way that Ravynn should have as she lost her breath. Slammed into something hard. Crunching sounds. Metal ripping. Still they kept moving.

Then the world went lopsided.

The car lurched forward at a hopeless angle and thrust her against the back of her dad’s seat. Lights danced across Ravynn’s vision, like thousands of little fireflies.

Her mom said something, and then she screamed. But her parents already seemed so far away. Like Ravynn was all alone, pitching downward in her metal prison toward the unforgiving water below the bridge.

The world was darker than before, despite the little fireflies that flashed their stunning brilliance at her.

She didn’t scream.

Not until the car hit the water. That was when time slowed to a crawl.

Her jaws and lips yanked wide open, as the most terrifying sound she’d ever heard came from her own mouth as the vehicle broke the surface of the water. Her jaw slammed shut from the impact, rattling her teeth. Water pulsed and thrummed up over the station wagon, but within those initial nanoseconds, Ravynn had already reacted. Those first few drops of water trickled over the side of her open window, into the car, still too slow to be real-time. It didn’t matter. Her body had vaulted to the side, flinging herself out the window, into the cold, dark water of the lake.

She never once thought of Mom or Dad- because in those moments- no one else existed.

In shock, Ravynn robotically tread water as the family car sank to the bottom of the lake. The lake was some strange living thing as it greedily devoured the car like a starved beast. She registered this unemotionally, as if her feelings had been frozen by the cold of the waters.

Then, something from behind brought her attention around; a woman who stood, or floated there, above the lake, in a spinning vortex of water. It was as if the water were a protective funnel, bending and swirling around her, keeping her above the hungry reach.

Ravynn knew what she needed to do. Where that melancholy had come from, because it had returned. A looping Déjà vu stole across her mind and she remembered being here before, in this exact moment. A recurring dream she’d had thousands of times, so often that Ravynn blurred the line between reality and dream. This woman had always been here. Her dark hair spun around her head, in the same motion that the funnel of water spun in. The white flowing dress billowed, twisting and turning along with the rotation of the water.

Ravynn needed to go to her.

The woman opened her arms in welcome.

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