I pull my head above water and shake it. Cold air stings the water droplets on my face. The waving water pushes my shoulders down. I sink below. I punch at the endless and suffocating cocoon of navy around me, effective as a child against a giant. Some wave is not going to wash over me. I’m not going to sink, all the rage rushing through my veins says I won’t. Something catches my feet, wraps around an ankle and pulls. A last fleeting hope floats out into an air bubble in front of my face. I’m going to sink.
Water beats around me, waves hitting me from all directions. It’s just a flash of black after black wave. I don’t kick at it so much as flail and my ankle is freed. I scramble in the most desperate, least graceful attempt I have ever made, pulling at the water above me. My mouth feels cold stinging air and I inhale like it is my first and last breath. I am shoved coldly and forcefully down by hands I can’t see.
Hopelessness gives way to frustration and ebbs back into hopelessness. My muscles relax and I sit there, suspended like a doll on a shelf. I cannot do a thing. My hair floats above me, reaching for the surface. It seems to be the only part of me that believes it should be above water. I try to follow it up only to feel the colliding crash of a wave into the surface of the water hit me in the stomach suddenly and brutally. The water beats me down, again, and again, and again, from all directions. Lactid acid burns in my muscles and once I do reach the cold air again it freezes in my lungs. Heat never burned as hot as that cold air, siphoning all the energy and hope left in my gut.
How do people swim? How do they surf, how do they wade in these currents? How do I get washed away under a thunderous wave while they flirt around in the sandbar? This and so many other questions I do not understand but it seems that preponderance doesn’t stop the sinking. Maybe I will just quit. Maybe I will just forget to breathe. What will the water do to me then? Who will the darkness wash over?
Those would all be things I would be thinking if I had enough oxygen left in my body. I stare out into what I can see, no sunshine breaking the surface to provide light past my own area. My body begins to feel so heavy I feel as if there is water in it, as if I have either become the cold and merciless water or have allowed it to fill my every extremity with boulders. I just drift there, batted back and forth by the waves like a lifeless toy being hungrily attacked by an overzealous dog.
The waves grow tired of me, they cease. Maybe I have enough to get to the surface. But whatever I might have left will be gone long before I am submerged again. For the first time, I cannot move towards the surface with the ignorant belief that I will be able to stay.
This is something I wrote maybe six years ago when I was about 23.