First 300 words where the narrator is in a calm state of mind:
The river is tumbling over the rocks here. It is a torrent of white foam and noise, like champagne spilling from a bottle. I try to imagine what it is like to be a salmon, desperate to swim upstream. The effort is too much for me, though. The warm sun is draining the energy from my bones, and sleep drifts sits me – an unseen guest at the party, waiting to draw me into welcome afternoon nap.
The picnic has been consumed, and my belly is full. I can hear my daughter at the water’s edge, shrieking loudly. Her brother, no doubt, splashing her with the icy chill mountain water. No other sounds reach me. No cars. No motorbikes. No other voices. We are alone here – just us and the mountain stream.
The rush of water is singing to me now. A joyous song of new birth, of promise and refreshment. Perhaps I will paddle later. It would be nice to feel the cool bubbles exploding around my bare skin. Were the water deep enough I would perhaps swim – naked as the day I was born.
‘Mum! Mum!’ My son shouts my name, but I do not stir from my resting place. Whatever he needs, it can wait a few more minutes. I am communing with nature, and it feels good. Perhaps one day he will learn to sit and drink in the beauty of the river without feeling the need to damn it, to control it. Or perhaps he will be an engineer and build far greater dams than his childish pile of stones and rocks. And my daughter, she will shriek his name with the crowds as they applaud his talents.
Then the same scene where the narrator is agitated
The river is tumbling over the rocks here. It is a torrent of white foam and noise, wil and dangerous. I imagine what it is like to be a salmon, desperate to swim upstream. The current beats against me. My breath catches in my throat. I move forward and then I am swept back. The effort is futile. I can’t fight the force of nature. Even the sun is an enemy today. It’s heat burns my skin, threatening to turn pale flesh into angry red. I dare not sleep in this place – tired though I am, I know that if I do, the nightmares will come. I must stay awake. I must be alert.
The picnic has been consumed, and my belly is full. I shouldn’t have eaten so much. I feel bloated. What if … Suddenly I hear a scream. My daughter is at the water’s edge, and the cry is hers. I begin to struggle to my feet. shrieking loudly. Has she fallen in? Has her brother gone to far with his horseplay and pushed her into the icy water. No other sounds reach me. No cars. No motorbikes. No other voices. We are alone here – just us and the mountain stream. No help is at hand. What if there is a flash flood? Or the current carries her downstream. There may be deeper pools below. People drown in mountain streams. Oh God. Darling, I’m coming.
The rush of water is mocking me now. It is singing a dark song of death, of cold promise and frozen limbs. I fear the water. The thought of its cold touch on my skin fills me with horror. I can swim, but what if I am not strong enough to fight the current. What if I cannot keep hold of my daughter? What if …?
‘Mum! Mum!’ My son shouts my name.
‘I’m coming! I shout back. I shouldn’t have let them play on the river bank alone. I should’ve kept them in sight. Foolish woman, that I am. I hurry towards the sound of their voices, fearing what I might see. He said he was going to build a damn. What if he succeeded and the water has pooled deep and deadly. My daughter is silent now. That is not a good thing. Are her lungs filled with water? Will she be floating, face down? Life less?
I shriek my son’s name as I rush towards them, praying it is not to late to rescue them from disaster.