After thirty days in a coma, Nelson awakens convinced he has visited the afterworld, where a vast river separates him from a benevolent figure on the far shore. His wife, Annie, is equally convinced Nelson has experienced nothing more mysterious than a dream induced by an oxygen-starved brain.
Following his discharge from the hospital, Nelson spends an increasing amount of time by the river, nearly dry from drought, that trickles past his and Annie’s home. Annie has been finding in its dusty channel unusual objects—a bone, a pocket watch, a katsina doll—which Nelson interprets as clues to his near-death experience: solving the puzzle in his present life will teach him to cross the river in his afterlife. His beliefs are both challenged and encouraged by his nurse, Zora, an evangelical Christian with a near-death history that uncannily parallels Nelson’s.
As Annie struggles to reconcile her memories of her husband with his new reality, Nelson slides deeper into obsession. At play’s end, she leaves him with an ultimatum: solve your mystery, alone, or save our marriage.