When I was five, I drowned. I didn’t die, of course.
I was standing chin deep in the cool, gently undulating water of Fraser Lake and I could feel my feet lifting from the sandy bed beneath me.
My arms begin grabbing for something, anything to keep me from moving with the water, but I find nothing. The next wave lifts me up with it and then turns me sideways, pressing me beneath the surface. The water in my ears swallows all other sound as it plunges me into the silence. It lifts me, one last time with it’s powerful surge and I rise from the grey murky thrum of the water to the bright sunshine, the sounds of children laughing and playing on the beach. I open my mouth to call for help, but the water fills it even as it sucks me back down; the water is in me and around me and over me. I am alone.
This is who I am now, I am part of the grey murky water that cradles me, rocking my body back and forth in it’s shallow depth. This is where I belong now, not in the dark but not in the light. My hair floats free, my arms are buoyant.
Then, I am lying on the grass, my sister’s boyfriend rolling my ragdoll body over as water gushes forcefully from my mouth. My eyes, my nose, my throat, and lungs burn. My body aches and there is a terrifying pressure inside my head. I have just one thought. I want to go home. I want my Mom.
Beach day is over. I try to process this trauma on the long drive home, but I can’t, so I squeeze it into a compartment in my brain and close the door.