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How to Swim in Dark Waters
The air is murky. I can feel it sticking to my skin, to my jeans and hair. It's like the layer of sediment in a lake water, it'll stain your clothes, make you heavy so you can drown.
Certainly this is the type of atmosphere you'd have to swim in to survive.
Sink or swim and if you don't sink it's the sharks. Those sharks now, I can see them, staring back at me with their bright eyes and vicious jaws.
"Hello" I dare, feigning confidence, the only way to make it here, was to fake it.
They did not reply as I stood there, waiting for an invitation I know would never come. Instead those sharks open their jaws, brandishing their laser whitened teeth like the medals they stole from me.
"How long has it been guys? Since eighth grade so about . . . two years right . . ." I mumble, stalling, because I'm too scared to move, as if a single twitch would cause them to pounce to begin a feast they never got to finish.
"We've missed you" says my old tormentor, though you'd never think of her as one. Her voice was thin yet rich, like she should be singing instead of speaking. The manner in which she draped herself in a seat with her short curls, she'd be more properly placed as a bartender in a 1920's speaks easy, not the captain of the dance squad. As far as I remembered the girl was her own walking bar anyway.
"Did you now?" I quirk my tone and c*** my head in faux amusement, I would say anything at that point to hold down the bile rollercoastering in my throat.
Some of the others snicker, actually thinking I believe Marianna. And they think themselves so clever.
"Why wouldn't we?" the smile she gives me pierces my skin with a cold medication that leaves me numb and suffocating, as if I weren't being suffocated by the scent of my blood already.
Behind me the door opens and a man walks in and jumps, almost spilling his coffee.
"Mr. Tate, our new students here!" Marianna's face changes and soon an ocean full of sharks becomes an eager school of fish, obedient and innocent.
Mr. Tate scratches his wonky head of hair before adjusting his glasses, "Oh, you must be the student who left for the two year gifted program! You're the one who painted that mural down at the junior high!" and he spills a little coffee on his tie as I nod. "I've heard so much about you from your teachers. It's great to have you back. Please, go ahead and take a desk in the back row"
But as I turn the fish did as well. Sharks again, no longer smiling those vixenous smiles of amusement, their eyes were glaring and their grins were gritted to almost non existence in the black hostility that emulated. As I walk through the darkest trenches, I know I was being followed, that they were studying their prey, looking for the perfect morsel of flesh to sink their steely knives into.
When I turned to face them it was no better. Mr. Tate was facing the board with his view of me obstructed by a computer. If only he knew that he had just condemned me. In the back row I was hidden, I was the next meal. Then once more the sharks began to smile, as if they knew a secret about me even I didn't know.
Only one thing comforted me.
That these 'sharks' could scratch at me, tear my flesh and at lap my blood and dusty bones till I was no more than a stain of shadows on the Earth. But they would never be anything more than sharks. These cowardly creatures were not creature enough to face me and strike at my throat.
And as the thick ocean water crashes around me, stealing me from my beloved sun, leaving me in the dark with sharks, I feel a hope I didn't feel the first time I swam my way out.
Treading in the shadows blind I don't need a light to see, I know the way out, I know their tricks. I have everything I need to make my way to the surface.
They didn't. They hadn't even bothered to try.
Without a light, without an aid, I began to make my last ascend through these dark waters.