"The Wrecking Ground, pt. 14" by Lee Huttner
"The Wrecking Ground" is an essay told in parts by Lee Huttner. We will be publishing a new part each week on our blog. Stay tuned!
The reeds among which Narcissus crouches reflect in the water too, downward-seeking reversals of themselves like lances poised to spear a fish. The pool’s muddy bed is translated into stars and storm clouds, minnows into magpies and airplanes.
Ovid wrote of the liquefaction of Narcissus and his metamorphosis into a flower. Ovid was wrong.
Narcissus drowned. One summer day, his pining grew so great that at last he bent, thrust his arms
into the water to embrace his image, and fell tumbling into the pool. Finding no one beneath the surface, he swam down and down into the dark of the deep water, searching for the boy he knew was there, must be there, please, let him be there.
That night, Echo came to the pool as she always did. Where Narcissus normally lay, where he had lain for millennia, there was only an oblong patch of barren ground. Determined to wait for him, she sat down in the mud and looked out onto the still, cold, quiet water.
He did not surface for three days, as his foot had become tangled in the thick lily roots at the bottom of the pool. When they finally relinquished their grip, his bloated body rose to the surface, face down, still gazing into the water. Echo spotted it far off, white and fungal. Though there was some debate as to whether or not Narcissus committed suicide, the coroner ultimately ruled his death an accidental drowning. When asked to identify the body, Echo could only nod in assent when the sheet was pulled back, for there were, of course, no more words left for her to speak.