February 28, 2017
By Katie LeJeune SILVER, Monticello, Illinois
Katie LeJeune SILVER, Monticello, Illinois
9 articles 0 photos 0 comments

My lungs gasp for air as the first wave crashes down. I did not know it at the time, but that would be the first in a long line of floods that would knock the wind out of me and pull me under. Every muscle in my body aches as I try to hold on just a little bit longer, fight just a little bit harder, holding out for the hope that I might be able to catch a breath soon. The waves tumble down one after another, no breaks, no breaths, only water. All that I am able to think about is the air, what I would do to be reunited with it; with the air comes freedom, comes joy, comes rest. With the water, all that comes is breathlessness. Wave after wave, impact after impact, it never ceases. The surge shows no mercy, holds none back. I know that my body will not be able to take much more before it becomes too much, before I succumb to the swell. Hands reach out to help me, for their waves are not as big as mine. It is no use; the waves are too high, I can not stretch to meet their hands. I can barely even see them, assuring me that they are there, but serving no aid in the battle between me and the current. My heart knows that I have to keep fighting, keep pushing, hold out just a little bit longer; my body tells me to give in, to allow the waves to take over my existence. The fight to survive, the battle to continue is much more painful than the one second that it takes to quit. I am going to do it, I tell myself, I am going to give up; you win, water. I close my eyes and brace myself for that final wave that will take me out, drag me under, end my suffering. This is what is best, I hear myself speak, everything will be over in a minute.

Just as I sink under the tide, the water parts for a moment, a grace period. The waves have shown me mercy long enough for me to gasp in a breath and reach out for a hand nearby. It is not much, but it is something. The flood returns just as I begin to catch my breath. My body continues to ache as crash after crash barrels down on top of me, my hand remains clenched around the outstretched hand, holding on for dear life. The air I breathed gave me strength; not a lot, but enough to make it until I get another part in the waters. The surge rumbles on and on, hitting me with everything that it has. You have to try, Katie, you have to try. I cling to the hand extended toward me. Though I cannot see who it belongs to, I know that someone is there, someone is trying to help.

The water parts and I wheeze, trying to soak in all of the strength from the oxygen before the tsunami begins again. I feel two more hands grab onto my arm, then another, and another. This break is longer, the air more plentiful. I am held in suspense, ready to fight the next round of swells, but they never come. My eyes begin to focus as I catch my breath for the first time. Slowly, the hands that have been reaching for me all this time pull me up out of the water and help me into the boat. I crash onto the floor, exhausted and unable to recover my sense of logic for what feels like years; however, it must have only been minutes, because soon I find myself sitting up and recognizing the faces of my loved ones surrounding me, there for me as I begin to recover my senses. With every breath comes sharp pain in my chest, just over my heart.

Over the horizon, I see the swell of another round of waves, but this time, I know that I will survive because I am in the boat. I begin to see the waves coming and by the time they reach me, they are much smaller than when they first started. I can prepare myself and take precautions that will enhance my chance of survival. Though I do not know how they do it, my loved ones block some of the waves so that I only get splashed instead of drenched.

As we float, the tides slow down. They never stop, but they slow, and now I can see them coming. I know that I will survive any splash because I survived the drowning. I have my people to protect me, to help me catch my breath when I get too wet. The pain in my chest, I know that it will never go away. Every warrior leaves a battle with a scar; mine is on my heart. The scar reminds me of the fight that I fought, that I won, to get to where I am today and to where I am going. It reminds me of the fight that I still fight. I cling to the scar because it reminds me of what made me strong.

The author's comments:

I wrote my piece as an extended metaphor for the emotional trauma that I've endured. A little over a month ago, my best friend and long-term significant other passed away and the entire experience has just crushed me. I've been broken in ways that I didn't even know were possible until I was feeling it on such extreme level that I couldn't possibly have been prepared for. I used the metaphor of waves crashing to try to simulate what the emotions and pain have been like every since it happened. There aren't words that will ever completely do it justice, but I did my very best.
This is a story about me trying to find the courage to keep going in a time that I wanted to give up because it would've been so much easier and it would've saved me from so much pain and suffering.
The waves simulate the emotional wrecks that I have had. In the beginning, my emotions were completely overwhelming 100% of the time, constantly filling my head with lies and doubts. Over time, the emotions came with short breaks in between, a day or two, where I was able to recover and prepare myself for the next time I would have to fight. As time goes on, the water has transformed from being emotional wrecks to being things that remind me of him and all of the times that we shared. In my piece, I describe the need for a little bit of splashing because sometimes, the memories that I recall or the objects I cling to offer me comfort instead of an emotional breakdown.
Toward the middle of my piece, I start describing hands that are reaching out for me and trying to help me out of the water. These hands, which I explain later on, belong to the people in my life that were there for me and still support me today. They help make the memories and breakdowns a little bit more survivable, so I describe them as blocking the water so that I only get splashed instead of drenched.
At the end, I begin to describe how I can see the waves coming before they hit me so I am able to prepare myself for it. This is talking about events or days that I know are going to specifically bring back memories of Lucas. I know before it happens that I am going to be affected by this, so I am able to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for it.
I also describe a pain in my chest just over my heart, which I later refer to as a scar. This is representing the piece of my heart that will always belong to Lucas; no matter where I end up or what I am doing, he will always be that piece of my heart and he will always be with me. I describe the scar as something I cling to, something that reminds me of the fight against the waves. This is referring to the piece of my heart that will always hurt because of what happened, but I use it to motivate me to continue, because I know that if I don't, then all of my loved ones will have to fight the waves and I would never wish that on anybody.
I know that we were supposed to have a character, conflict, and a resolution as a part of this piece. I consider myself the character and I think that the conflict is pretty evident. In a way, the last paragraph could be considered the resolution, but I haven't personally reached a complete resolution and I don't think that I ever will.

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