1. Not a honeymoon, but an early marriage trip and they are standing by the edge of Niagara Falls. That spot where the river ends and hurls itself into mist and spin. She is gripped by the dark shelf underneath the inches of water and how inviting it looks. If she were anything but human, maybe. If she were a barrel, say, or even a fish. She watches the water curling over like a question: what have I done? What have I done? She asks herself again that night back at the hotel. After the spill of sex with this husband she doesn’t love. She lies there after, river-still.
2. Years later, she is shopping in one of those stores that replaced another store. She is two husbands later, but nothing much has changed. She picks up a bottle of cheap water. The faint slosh inside of it reminds her of something. Kind of.
3. Drench and cool and all of that, but really so much more. Her youngest, the second marriage baby, the let’s-try-to-save-this-marriage baby is now 22. She watches her dance in a small waterfall near their vacation home. Part of the divorce settlement after the father took off in the night with the grocery woman, the one who handed out samples of water. The one he said wasn’t that pretty.
4. It’s funny, isn’t it, how calm a river can seem? A water hollow, a rut in the earth and it fills up with rain or snowmelt from the mountains. The twist of fish that keep swimming and swimming, a whole world going on underneath. It all keeps moving and moving and then . . .
5. Her third and final husband likes to go fishing. All day long, the slimy worms, the sinking damp. And worst of all, the stink. Can’t even wash it off anymore. It was something she couldn’t have seen in his profile pic, her older daughter urging her on. “C’mon,” she had said. “Dad’s moved on and so should you.” Later, she tells herself okay, she is a river and moving on is the only way to get anywhere. The next day she and the older daughter make a list of what she wants in a husband. Fish stink is not on the list.
6. She takes an old-lady trip to Niagara Falls. A bus ride with lots of Gwendolyn’s and Ruth’s. This is what she was always afraid of: bowls of gray hair and let’s be sure to eat early. They break into groups of three at the restaurant. Talk about their dead husbands and how none of them saw it coming. They order olives in their salads because you have to have some fun at our age. They go back to see the Falls at night, lit up rainbow-style. She looks for the spot where the river turns into the Falls. Even with the colored lights, it’s harder to see than in daytime. She wonders if the fish swimming directly into this spot can see it from upstream. She wishes for a moment that she could warn them.