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What Have I Done?
The water was choking me, as I thrashed about in the waves desperate for air. The cold started to close in on me, and I felt my hands go numb. Thoughts flashed through my head as everything went black. Looking back on the events of that morning, this situation might have been the only means of escape.
I had come downstairs that morning, half asleep and slumped into a chair. The smell of French toast and eggs had roused my from a peaceful sleep. I looked out towards the ocean as the morning sun turned the water orange. As my Mum slid a plate to me I looked up and saw deep worry line her face.
“What’s wrong, Mum?” I asked, poking at my eggs. She sighed and shook her head, stepping back into the kitchen. She wasn’t going to come clean easily.
“Could you get me some syrup, Mum?” I asked in the sweet way a 14-year-old girl would ask on a normal day in a household where nothing was the matter. Mum sighed again, and opened the fridge, reappearing a moment later with a bottle of ketchup.
It was my turn to sigh. Having proved my suspicion the something was amuck, I picked up the ketchup myself, went to the fridge and returned with the bottle of syrup.
“Mum, you’re absent minded this morning.” I poured the syrup over my toast and snapped the cap back on. “I know something’s up.”
Mum sighed yet again and rubbed her forehead with one hand, brandishing a cup of coffee in the other. She looked tired, and unusually quiet. So quiet in fact, that I could hear the waves lapping at the shoreline not far from out house. She looked down at her coffee and closed her eyes.
“You know that things have been… difficult lately,” she said at last.
I gripped my fork tighter and grimaced. This wasn’t going to be good. “You know, with money being tight and your brother running away and all…” she trailed off yet again. I saw sadness in the depth of her brown eyes. I saw them grow a bit moist, no doubt remembering how Sean had left home a year before. Sean had gotten heavy into drugs with some friends at school. I had often walked in to see him and my Dad yelling and Mum crying. Once during one of these incidents, Sean had roared, “I wish that you weren’t my father!” Dad replied, “So do I!” Sean had left shortly after. I was grief stricken because I really looked up to Sean. I loved him so much, as much as a sister can, and he was gone. We never heard from him again.
Your father and I are separating.” The words shocked my out of my memories.
“What?” I was not one to stay silent for long. The questions started bubbling up, along with something else, I realized – tears.
“What?” I asked again. “Why!”
“Honey, It’s just not working out. And with everything that’s happened, I don’t see how we can go on.” She forced a sad smile and squeezed my hand. “If the separation goes over well, we can try and start again. You’ll live with Dad one week and me the next. You’ll see us both, and it will be better for you. Understand?” I nodded, not able to speak. My mind was elsewhere. She babbled on for a while about how it would be good for me and how it would all work out, when suddenly, Mum stated crying.
“Mum! What’s wrong, Mum?” I shook her shoulder gently.
“Marisa! Oh, Marisa, I haven’t told you the worst of it yet! I just didn’t know how…”
“Mum, what’s wrong? Tell me, please!”
“It’s Sean – he’s dead.” She sniffled and broke into another round of sobs.
“How? It’s not possible!”
“Yes – yes it is. Someone reported him to the police. He was drunk driving. When they found his car it was wrecked. He had crashed and fell over the guardrail. They had to drag the river for his body.” More sobs.
I didn’t know anything then. Only what I had just been told. I knew my beloved brother, Sean, was dead. I knew things were bad, with Mum and Dad always fighting about money and relationships. I knew theirs was disintegrating faster than sugar cube in water…
Water. The word sparked a thought, and the thought sparked a command. I jumped up from the table and flew out the back door before Mum could stop me. I heard her calls as I ran down to the shore, but I ignored her. As I reached the water’s edge, I slowed, splashing in a couple of feet. I stood panting for a minute, thinking about what I was about to do. Then I took the first few steps, glancing back once over my shoulder. As the water level climbed higher, I breathed, casting all thoughts from my mind. The water was to my knees.
“Deeper.” The voice – my own – sounded in my head.
The water had reached my elbows.
“It’ll all be over.”
“This is your perfect escape, Marisa.”
I took one last breath and let myself go. The water had been somewhat calm. But as I went under, it became turbulent, waves sloshing over my head and knocking me around below the surface. As I thrashed, all thoughts left my head. Except one.
“What are you doing?!” it screamed as I began to lose consciousness. I tried to shove the thought away and focus on what I was doing. Everything was fading to black. I actually felt myself slipping away. One final thought flashed in my head, two echoing sentences, three words in particular: “No second thoughts. What have I done to my life?”