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Underwater Perceptions This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

I’m drowning, I thought.

It was a lazy, hot summer afternoon, the type of day when it was too hot to do nearly anything, yet such a day that you simply could not pass without doing something. Just the perfect day for a swim.
My friend and I had just gotten out of school, and were glad of it. We had a whole three months idling around ahead of us. We started off the season in my backyard, in a makeshift plastic swimming pool.
My long red hair was an unkempt tangle atop my head, and my friend, lounging in a pool ring on the clear blue water, had just finished telling me that I resembled Medusa when I plunged.
I felt a shock of cold and struggled to stay underwater. Onnnne. Twoooooo… Threeeee…… I counted, silently, of course. I had no specific desire to choke myself. Fourrrr….. Fiiiiive….. Sixxxxxx….. I was counting slowly. Too slowly. I resumed counting, only faster this time. Seven…. Eight…. Nine…. TenElevenTwelveThir……
In a sudden flurry, I forced myself up to the surface in a splash. A grinning, gleaming, gloriously giddy 10 year-old girl streamed up in a shower of water, announcing, “Thirteen whole seconds!” The very image of jubilance.
“Liar,” my friend muttered to herself, obviously noticing how I had stressed the “whole” part of thirteen seconds. “It was only twelve and a half.” Addressing me this time, she said: “You should be able to hold your breath longer. Thirteen seconds is not in the least adequate. If you ever went rafting and fell into the water, you would not even have enough oxygen inside of you to last long enough to get back in.”
I had actually heard both of her statements, but chose to ignore the first. However, I did swim over ever so slyly, and upset her perch so that she tumbled down with a splash into the water. “I never go rafting,” I said, though I could feel a fierce determination to prove her wrong whelm up inside me. “Time me again,” I imperiously demanded. “please?”
I was perched on the little ladder at the side of the pool. It was too short and narrow, and it wobbled menacingly. I gripped the soft air-inflated rubber rim as well as I could, prepared to dive. I rocked back and forth on my heels, eager to get back into the warm water, yet at the same time dreading what I had pledged (to myself, and unfortunately my friend, as well) to do. Hold my breath as long as I could while she counted. But of course, “as long as I could” really meant “way longer than last time”. Oh, gosh. I really don’t want to do this. I really, really, don’t want to do this.
“Hurry up!” Samantha called, her voice piercing through my tensed silence. Just do it and get it over with, once and for all, the little voice in my head urged, as well. I inhaled a deep breath.
Then I dove.
I felt a queer mix of both despair and relief once I was fully emerged again. And of course, to my utter annoyance, I found myself floating back up to the surface, frazzling both my concentration and nerves. I had always thought that my problem was sinking – which certainly would help me now – but then again, I was always plagued with misfortune. I gripped the plastic bottom irritably. Small air bubbles escaped me slowly, and I paused to watch them, hoping to divert my mind from the need to breathe. It worked – for a little while.
I thought it was actually quite easy, hanging on there, desperately trying to defy a basic human necessity. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it should have been. I felt surprisingly calm, serene; I may as well have been falling into a doze. I would bet (nearly) anything that I’d been underwater forty seconds, at least. It’s a shame that no reporters are here, I thought sullenly. I could have had my name in the Guinness Book of World Records…… By this time, I was beginning to feel slightly dizzy, and I was pretty sure I could feel some water up my nose. I could no longer ignore the wave of excess carbon dioxide rising up inside me, forcing its way up my throat and through my mouth and nose. It has to be a minute now… I need to breathe. I need to breathe, I need to breathe. Just admit it. Go up there and let Samantha laugh at you. No, actually don’t. You must hold your breath just a little longer…. just a little longer….. Who cares about breathing anyway? And another little voice in my head replied: Me!! But I stayed anyway.

Suddenly, I couldn’t see. There was a white flash in front of my eyes. I could neither feel, see, nor hear anything. I only had the vaguest feeling that I was drifting…. but where to? As my blank eyes tried desperately to fix themselves on something, anything but this ominous veil of white blinding me, it only glowed brighter and became more prominent. Could this be my life, flashing before my eyes in my last few seconds? My last few seconds here on Earth? Was I already gone?
The burning white melted into an equally frightfully fascinating blackness… I would have felt as though I were drowning in a never-ending abyss, suspended somewhere riddled with echoing horrors…. if I could feel anything, that is.

I’m drowning, I thought.
My eyelids drooped…. No! My senses swarmed back to me too fast at once… with renowned vigor I fought against the overpowering force, my consciousness regained. I emerged from the eerie, unearthly illusion.
My eyes blinked in the bright sunlight as I gasped for breath. Dazed, I desperately looked around for anything familiar. I was more relieved than anything when I heard Samantha dully say, “20 seconds,”, that I flung myself at her, weeping piteously, not even processing the declaration of my failure. But I do know, that when she finally got that through to me, that I did not even care anymore. That day I realized that no temporary achievement is worth your life, and that it is more stupid than heroic to put it at risk.



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This article has 7 comments. Post your own!

Cutey-BeautyThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
today at 9:27 am:
Great job ;) WOW. I THINK IM DROWNING. LOL. Just kidding. But seriously, this is a wonderful piece and fully deserves that little red check we all love seeing so much. KEEP WRITING ;)
 
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BookNerd35This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jun. 2 at 8:28 pm:
Great Job! And you had a very good message in your last paragraph. 5/5
 
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RoyalCoronaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
May 30 at 4:57 pm:
Great job!! This was a great non-fiction and a good message at the end! Nice job!!!!!
 
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TheHalf-BloodPrincessThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 25 at 7:13 pm:
Thank you so much for reading, both of you. I appreciate the ratings and the comments!
 
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JettaWintryThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 24 at 8:53 pm:
I LOVED this!!! It was so dramatic, and I actually found myself holding my breath, waiting for the big finish in the story. Honestly, I've got no critiques on this one. Very nice job!
 
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swat17This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 24 at 4:14 pm:
Nice work! I liked the characterization. The way you ended the story with a lesson was great. Keep up the good work :)
 
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TheHalf-BloodPrincessThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 22 at 7:38 pm:
Yes! I got an editor's pick! Thanks TeenInk!
 
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