Monday, December 19, 2011

Helping a Girl Drown


She called for help. Asked me to swim out to her. She thrashed in the deep water. I stripped naked and stepped in. The water was cold and restless. She called my name. Told me to hurry I waded out to my waist, breathed deep. I dove forward thinking of a man who dove into a rock and broke his spine. I surfaced. She called me names without enthusiasm. She was on the verge of giving up. I swam to her. She said she couldn’t do it. She was failing to drown. The water, she said, wouldn’t pull her down. She asked again for help. I was reluctant, of course. I have my own problems. But I told her to hold her breath. She nodded. Inhaled deeply. Sank just below the surface. I watch her face through the waves. I was so tired. When she was about to burst, her body demanding air, she blew out her lungs. I pushed her head down as the bubbles rose. I held her down and she breathed in the darkness. Struggled. But I was strong and her eyes were so grateful. And she was gone. I treaded water. We had drifted far out to sea. How long, I wondered, will I have to swim if I am ever to find land?