Cliff Diver

She plummeted in a perfect swan dive—long, white neck and arms like pinioned wings swept back—but when she hit the water in a crown of foam, she became human again, for one last instant, a person who could bleed and dream and fail and love. Divers will scissor-kick to the top and pop up like bobbers, but not her, not that dive. She stayed under. People wondered at first, then worried for half a minute, then freaked out, and the tail end of this panic was the silent pulse of police and ambulance lights at the jumping off place.  They never found her. Her body, rather. Even though their search went on longer—likely, because of her beauty—than these things normally last. The closest they came was a blurry picture, taken of the moment by a friend. Her hands had just punctured the surface, wrists braceleted in the splash as it came alive, legs straight as Popsicle sticks. Hands wet, head and suit and legs immobilized in their last dry instant. She, not gone but no longer there all the way, still as glass, never not disappearing.


Paul Luikart is the author of the short story collections Animal Heart (Hyperborea Publishing, 2016), Brief Instructions (Ghostbird Press, 2017), Metropolia (Ghostbird Press, 2021) and The Museum of Heartache (Pski’s Porch Publishing, 2021.) He serves as an adjunct professor of fiction writing at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. He and his family live in Chattanooga, Tennessee.