My toe breaks the surface tension of the glassy lake. Ripples bloom even at my cautious touch. I catch my breath as an unseen current beneath the waters wraps around my ankles and tightens its grasp. Toes sink further into the bed of clay and silt. A glare from the harsh, midday sun blinds my wandering gaze as I search for the shore in the distance. A bead of sweat trickles down the nape of my neck, the sun beats mercilessly down on the strip of scalp exposed by the middle parting of my hair, a strong breeze nudges me from behind, tickles my ears with its whisperings. The gently lapping waves call to me... and I listen.
Most unlike me, I let go of the anchor of caution and wade out.
Confession: I don’t know how to swim. I was always too afraid of the water, too afraid of the deep, too afraid of drowning. So, while others splashed in sun-speckled waves I remained safe on shore building awe-inspiring sandcastles and watching wispy, cotton candy-like clouds float across a powder-blue sky.
I take a step further, a step too far. The water now laps at my chin; kisses my lips in a playful greeting.
My toes unfurl from the layers of soft clay, I tuck my knees to my chest and make myself to sink like a rock. I disappear with a whoosh beneath the waves. The water is cold at first, as we are unfamiliar and have only just met. I move with the current because I have no direction, no will. As I descend, I feel my extremities begin to tingle; the tips of my fingers and toes go numb.Peering down through the murkiness, the lake bottom materializes beneath me and coarse, yet slimy seaweed tickles the bottom of my feet. My muscles contract and tighten in the cold, my loose hair and seaweed streams about my face and shoulders. I tilt my head back to gauge how farI rest from the surface. Rays of sunlight filter through the depths and finds me like golden ropes. I rake my hand through them; they aren’t to be grasped. It’s now that panic spreads through my stiff body. My lips part slightly and water fills my mouth. I thrash and kick only to find myself sinking again to the silt bed.
I suppose this is what it is to drown: to feel utterly helpless with fear clawing and scraping out your insides. I pull my arms tight to my chest and go still. The murky clouds disperse and the disturbed deposit settles at my feet.
It would be easiest to let myself drift away. To let the blood in my veins cool.
That would be easier, but that’s not who I am.
My lungs begin to ache and sear. I long to taste sweet air.
The things weighing me down; failures, broken relationships, faded and seemingly unreachable dreams leave me when I exhale. They rush to the surface in a pocket/vacuum of bubbles and burst at once. Instantly, my core begins to burn, and I feel a powerful surge through my muscles. I push off the lakebed, and with a flutter of my feet, and stroke of my arms, I break the surface.
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