Rip Currents | Teen Ink

Rip Currents MAG

March 6, 2019
By Anonymous

Concluding his lecture, my teacher reclines in his desk chair. My classmates talk amongst one another, building extravagant stories out of mundane events and spreading gossip like rainbow sprinkles.

Do they know how much it hurts when you’re the subject of gossip? I stare at the ground, eyes fixated on the same blue tile I’ve been glaring at for the last 20 minutes. Dark thoughts crash through my mind like waves along a pier, not constant but still powerful. I know I need to join the conversation, to listen, or for God’s sake at least engage. But I can’t. I’m trapped in an unpoppable bubble. My heart pounds against my ribcage. Can a muscle break bones? I’m watching my friends, my classmates, myself, from outside my body; I’m no longer in the room. My friend laughs at a joke before turning to me. Her hand grazes my shoulder, and I flinch at the touch. She asks me a question but I can only mumble a response. Nothing feels real.

Later, bundled in blankets, I curl up in the corner of my room. A fall breeze blows in through my cracked windows. Mom has told me countless times to keep the windows closed for the sake of our heating bill. But if I listen carefully, I can hear cars speeding along I-94. Where are they going? What are their passengers’ stories? My attention returns to the FaceTime call as my friend asks me where I went. Attempting to remember our conversation, I shrug and say I was distracted by homework. But she can read through my lies like an English teacher detecting plagiarism. I’ve stolen so many lines from others – I’m okay, life is going great, everything is fine – I should probably cite my sources at the end of each sentence. But it’s nice to avoid the concerned glances and forced hugs for a few minutes. My friend asks if something is wrong. I shrug. How can everything be far from right but also not wrong? She asks if something happened today. Not as far as I’m aware. She asks if I’m okay. Everything is fine but nothing is okay. Is that even possible? She continues to inquire but my responses remain distant and vague: I guess, not exactly, kind of, maybe, sometimes. Each question feels like a probe into the mind I no longer recognize as my own. Tears slip down my cheeks as I ask myself what is happening to me.

12:34 a.m. I should be asleep in my bed or watching a movie with my sister or catching up with a friend. Instead, I sit on boulders near the breakers. Water diverges after crashing into the curved metal sheets, sprinkling the sand with water droplets like stars in a night sky. My body shivers, begging me to return to the heated car. My eyes glance over my shoulder, urging me to go home. But my mind overrules both requests, forcing me to stay put. Waves splash water on my Converse as wind whips sand against my cheek. The lights from the water treatment plant show the bluish tint on the tips of my fingers. I stare at the black waves, wondering how I lost myself in rip currents of life. And how to stay afloat for one more day.


The author's comments:

This was written during a darker part of my life. It includes three snapshots from a particularly difficult month. 


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