Woke up this morning.
Opened my eyes.
Knew I could walk on water.
You got that? I KNEW I COULD WALK ON WATER.
It hadn’t been a dream, it’d been…what, a revelation? An ephiphany? – God knows, there must be some big word for it but I don’t really know what those two mean or whether that was what it was.
The reason I can’t properly describe it is because it’s never happened before. But what I want you to understand is that it was like, really, really real.
I was in bed, asleep, which kind of underlines that it was real in as much as I didn’t think I was off floating around in space or anything, and this dude just arrives and sits at the foot of my bed and starts stroking my feet. You may think that sounds creepy but it was actually quite cool, nothing pervy about it. His hand was above the duvet and my feet were under it and so it was just kind of soothing and cosy.
Anyway, I guess him stroking my feet must have made me wake up, that is, wake up in my dream because I didn’t wake up properly until after all this, did I?
So there he was only I couldn’t really see him because there was a bright light behind him and it was like when the sun dazzles you. I could only see him as an outline, a vague sort of shape, but I knew it was a bloke right enough because of his voice. So that’s all I can tell you about who it was; anyway, what he said was the important bit.
“There’s a reason why your feet are like they are, Steve,” he said and I remember being pretty impressed that he knew my name. “It’s so you would be ready, when the time was right, to walk on water. Now you’re a man, that time has finally come. Your destiny has arrived.”
And with that he gave my feet a final sort of loving squeeze and just faded away. Throughout it all I didn’t have time to say a word, let alone ask him any questions though I don’t know what exactly I would have said apart from “Why me?” And actually I think I may know the answer to that. Probably it’s because I have webbed toes, which isn’t something I’m proud of or ashamed of or even think about that much, but in terms of walking on water maybe it has some link.
When I was just a kid my mum told me that the condition of having webbed fingers and webbed toes has a name: syndactyly and it’s pretty rare. I think she was telling me that knowing that once the kids at school found out, they were going to have plenty to say about it. In fact, she needn’t have worried. They were curious and a bit disgusted but perhaps because I was always a shedload bigger than even the biggest of them, they didn’t do much more than start calling me Frog. Compared to what most others were called, that hardly brought on a nervous breakdown.
So not many people have syndactyly but, correct me if I’m wrong, the number of people you hear about who can walk on water is rarer still - as in zilch – although they may just be keeping it very, very quiet.
Anyway, it being past seven when I woke up, I didn’t have time to dwell any further on the strange business if I was going to get to work on time and avoid another rocket. I work at Cost-Cutter on the checkouts and was pretty sure that unless the government had declared a surprise bank holiday it’d be a slow start and I’d have time to think some more later on inbetween straightening up bags like an eager labrador.
So it wasn’t until part way through the morning that two questions of pretty seismic proportions popped up in my brain: how was I going to do it? and what, actually, was the point?
In practical terms “You can walk on water,” isn’t really that helpful when you think about it. I mean, is that meant to apply to any sort of water – freshwater or salt? And how deep? Is it a case of you can walk on anything deeper than a large puddle but for god’s sake don’t go on a lake? And what about waves and currents? The more I thought, the more I realised I didn’t know. Was I meant to keep my shoes on - presumably not if the syndactyly had anything to do with it? Could I just step out onto deep water or would I have to kind of build up gradually from a shallow bit?
And how the hell was I supposed to test all this out? I live in a crappy land-locked town in the Midlands – we don’t have a river, lake, or even a canal.
That led into the second great question: Why?
Like most people I’ve wished for oodles of things in my life: success with girls, more money, fast cars, no spots. You can see how they’d all have a dramatic impact on my chances and those of any other geezer you’d stop in the street. But walking on water? I’d never given it a thought. It was difficult to see how I was going to benefit apart from becoming a big draw on YouTube.
Too difficult, I decided. I’d park that problem for later
That said, the knowledge did give me a warm feeling in the pit of my stomach. I felt more confident, more important; I could walk on water, I was the chosen one. But I was in two minds about mentioning it to anyone. I’m not stupid; if anyone said to me, “Hey, guess what? Apparently I can walk on water” I’d tell them they needed to cut back on their recreational medication.
Yet it was an enthralling development in my small life and I had a pressing need to acknowledge it. So I threw out a line to Twigs, my mate, in the canteen at dinner break.
“You ever heard anything about anyone walking on water?” I asked quietly, trying to sound nonchalant.
“What like Jesus and miracles and stuff?” he said, looking unimpressed. “Why d’ya wanna know?
“Yeah, that sort of thing. No particular reason for asking, just interested.”
He pulled a face, “Right,” then reached for his phone and tapped in a few words.
“There you go,” he said, “Wikipedia says it’s in the bible and Jesus walked on water on the sea. All to do with faith and stuff apparently as some other git tried it and then sank.”
I nodded. It was better than nothing, at least now I had a bit more knowledge. “Nothing about anyone else doing it?”
He flicked around for a while then shook his head. “Not listed as an Olymic event quite yet.”
I could tell he was itching to know why I was interested, but my lips were going to remain sealed until I’d found out more. And then…well, I could almost hear him saying to the news crew “And I knew him from way back when he was just old Frog. None of us even suspected he had this amazing talent…”
By now my brain was working overtime trying to think of how I was going to put it to the test. My big fear was that if I didn’t try it soon it might seem like I wasn’t interested and it would go away again. But I couldn’t make it to the coast before the weekend and besides, the sea at this time of year seemed a bit of a risky way to start.
The solution came to me as suddenly and clearly as the dream. A swimming pool: still water, variable depths and relatively accessible; it had to be the answer.
Unfortunately it wasn’t the right answer which is why I’m now lying on a trolley in A&E with two suspected broken legs and a surly-looking policeman all but holding my hand.
I’d remembered that Barry the boss had a pool; we’d all gone round there last summer for a party, so I decided that after work I’d sneak into his garden to have a go. But it was pitch black and blowing a storm and what I hadn’t realised as I stepped confidently off the side (reminding myself that it was lack of faith that made the geezer in the bible sink) was that Barry drained the damn thing over winter.
“Jeez, son, what on earth did you think you were doing?” the paramedics said as they strapped me onto a stretcher. The cop said much the same thing, especially when I came up squeaky clean for drink and drugs.
I just shrugged.
They’ll understand one day.