Everything is still. The silence is deafening -- so much so that my pulse pounds in my ears and I'm afraid that the man in the canoe will hear it.
"Hush, Jacob." I whisper softly to myself, cursing the rasp in my voice. I must have been screaming when he took me. Not that I could hear myself. When the world is moving in slow motion, I find that sight and sound don't take precedence over the feeling of sweaty palms and a heart trying to escape your chest.
I look down at the water. A fine mist lays dormant over the river and other than the ripples from the edges of the canoe, the water is still. Quiet. Dangerous. If I knew how to swim I'd probably attempt an escape.
Panic rises in me yet again. Does this man know I can't swim? Is that why he's taken me here? I look up through my hood at the predator's back. He hasn't said anything. I watch the muscles in his back ripple with every stroke of the oar, a silent routine that seems natural for him. I try not to make too much noise, seeing as he hasn't turned around yet, and I'd like it to stay that way.
I try to remember what happened, but my mind is foggy. How long had I been here? How long has he been rowing? I turn my head to note my surroundings. Water. Sky. Not much else.
Breathe, I tell myself, breathe and think. I remember being at Emma's party. My cousin doesn't usually invite me to her social functions, but after my mom found out that I was running low on actual friends, (she didn't listen when I said my collection of stamps were my friends), she talked to Aunt Karen and convinced her to tell Emma to hang out with me more. It was mortifying, to be honest. Emma is the kind of person I'd stay away from if familial obligations didn't force us to mingle.
I was getting bored of listening to her tell the story of how she robbed a drugstore (for the seventh time), so I snuck outside to get some fresh air. It was cold, and there weren't many people standing outside her apartment complex. I figured a walk to the gas station a few blocks down wouldn't do any harm, and I'd finally be away from that insufferable party and all of Emma's devil-may-care friends. I started walking. A bee stung me, maybe. The world started to spin. I don't remember much after that.
A bee? I'm not allergic to bees. I pondered silently as my kidnapper began to slow his rowing. Trees come into focus. We're nearing a bank of dark woods. The man puts the oar next to him as we glide slowly towards land. I still haven't seen his face, and I'm not sure if I want to. Having his back to me has been a relief -- a way for me to deny what had happened. But I know that as soon as he turns to look at me, this becomes real.
As luck would have it, the man turns right then to face me. And what I see makes me stagger back onto my hands, rocking the canoe and sending me flying over the side and into the water. I gulp in mouthful after mouthful of mucky river water, flailing as my coat begins to drag me deeper. My eyes are wide open, staring at the silhouette of the canoe as I sink down into the depths of the black water, really wishing I had learned how to swim.