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in one moment...

In one moment have you ever watched your entire life flash before your eyes, felt death’s icy breath on the back of your neck only to be pulled back to life? These experiences change you, for better or worse. You take precautions that were once ignored, you find yourself with unwanted lingering fears. I haven’t stood in water above my waist in two summers. Going to the pool, means sitting at the edge. I can’t bring myself to forgive the water, not when the memory of drowning is so vividly burned in my mind.
There was nothing remotely significant about July 7, 2008. It shouldn’t have been a day I remembered. The sky was beautiful and blue, completely absent of clouds. The sun sat high, giving off heat that warmed the plastic pool chair and the cement. It radiated beams of life that sparkled brilliantly off of the still blue surface of the pool. It was a perfect summer day; I could have never predicted how it would carry out.
I never even planned to get in the water; it was a day that I planned only to lounge peacefully by the side of the pool and tan. The flimsy plastic pool chair I spent hours in that day was a danger in itself. If I had predicted an unfortunate outcome of that day, sunburn from my complete lack of sunscreen, or falling through a plastic chair, would have been easy guesses. But nearly drowning, I never could have foreseen. Maybe is I had done just one thing differently, it could have been avoided, but there’s no erasing the past. There’s no changing that my shoe choice was ridiculous; Two inch sandals with a strap around the ankle. The kind you have to reach down and buckle. They were my favorite shoes, elegantly hand stitched beads and shells from the ocean. They were a ridiculous choice for a day at the pool, but they matched my bathing suit and I wanted to wear them.
I started towards the iron gate of the fence. Towel wrapped around my body, heels clicking behind me. The pool was almost empty that day; otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed the small girl at the edge of the pool. Two years old at the most, white blonde hair, and bright blue eyes. She leaned dangerously far out over the edge off the pool. Instinctively I reached out to pull her away from the edge. She looked at me with a droopy puppy dog gaze and pointed at the shimmering water. I looked into the pool and at the bottom of the 7 foot section was a plastic Barbie doll, not unlike the ones I played with when I was much younger. The little blonde girl had been trying to retrieve her toy. I searched the pool for anyone who might be the girls guardian, but the pool was empty except for a few boys playing on the adjacent playground. This was strange for the pool had no lifeguard. Who would let such a young child in the way of danger like this? I shudder at the thought of what could have happened to her.
I looked at the little girl’s sad face and decided that I would retrieve her doll. I stood up, dropped my polka dotted beach towel and jumped into the 7 foot deep pool, shattering the crystal clear surface of the water, my mistake did not hit me until the moment my sandals scraped the bottom of the pool. I had forgotten to take off my sandals and now they were surely ruined. I let out my breath and pushed off the bottom of the pool using my legs, attempting to resurface. But I remained trapped beneath the water at the bottom of the pool. Again, I tried with no success. I panicked, my eyes were burning from the clohrine, and my lungs craved the oxygen that was just feet above my head. I flailed my arms desperately, I thought that if I made enough of a struggle somehow I would be free. A glimpse of gold caught my eye, the buckle on the strap of my sandal. It was caught on the grate at the deepest point of the pool.
I reached down to unbuckle the strap but it was impossible to reach. My lungs seared with pain, the water pressed on top of my body. Suffocated and helpless I stared up to the surface of the water, the light of the sun blinding. I gathered every bit of strength I had, and in one final struggle, broke free of my bond and drifted to the surface. My body broke through the water and with both hands I grasped the side of the pool. I was weak and it burned my lungs to breathe. But I was alive. Breath refilled my lungs. Sun warmed my shivering body. I didn’t even consider going back in for my sandal that had left a red ring around my ankle during the struggle. I’ll never look at water the same way again, not after it almost took my life.





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