By Brie Beach
I am falling. Plunging irreversibly toward the ocean surface. I have always had an irrational fear of drowning, and here it is, about to happen. My entire life does not flash before my eyes as gravity takes me downward headfirst; only certain memories appear in my mind. I cannot pick and choose which ones, but so far, they are all good. Most involve one particular person held near and dear. I am distracted by the reel until I hit the water, when dread and panic set in.
I know enough not to thrash, inhale, or scream. I do not know how to tread or swim. I wait until I bob up to the surface, sucking in a deep breath; then I begin to sink back down. What now? I can float, but not forever. I do that as long as I can, but suddenly a huge wave is approaching me. I hadn’t noticed the impending storm. That’s it, then; here it comes. I allow myself to be swallowed up by it, and it carries me far, far below the surface.
I am out of air, and there is no way I can make it back up. Especially not with the raging waters above. I give in, resigning myself to the inevitable. I let the rest of my breath out slowly as I sink further into the deep. Blackness begins to surround me as I succumb, preparing myself for the swift unpleasantness before the calm. It will be over soon, I tell myself.
Yet as I am forced to inhale, nothing changes. No salty burning in my lungs; no choking. Unsure what is happening, I exhale and inhale again normally. I’m still alive. Why? Repeating the process produces the same non-results. No death. And there I thought I was prepared for it. How is this possible?
I twirl and dance around, realization dawning. If this is drowning, why was I so afraid of it? If this is death, have I really been living?
Perhaps my lungs deceive me; I must make it to the surface. But how? I attempt to swim, and discover it to be much easier than I had anticipated. I gracefully wind my way up and up, until I can see sunlight. As I break through the surface, gasping, the sensation I had expected earlier overwhelms me. Choking. Suffocation. Death.
Confused and paralyzed, I hold my breath. Only then do I understand; I submerge myself back underwater, inhaling. Breath. Sustenance. Living.
I sink into the murky depths, never to return.
Brie Beach lives in Arizona.She has been editing/proofreading for a couple years and started writing recently. She is working on writing a couple novels in addition to her editing work, and she hopes to continue both for a long time.