AQUAPHOBIA

I’ve never understood the fear of drowning. I, personally, have always loved the water. In my opinion, there is no better feeling than that of being surrounded by liquid, hearing nothing but your own thoughts, seeing nothing but blue. It’s the closest that you can get to flying. It’s those few minutes when you are completely and utterly alone, and it’s a feeling that I always crave. Perhaps this relates to my ability to breathe underwater.

There is no reason for me to fear, so Ido not. I do not understand others, and they do not understand me. They ask me how I have this ability, why I do not use it for more than to simply have a moment to escape the outside world. I do not answer them. My ability is simply a fact. The sky is blue, the grass is green, and I can breathe underwater. This is not a story about how I got here, but where I will go from where I am, the bottom of the lake on a humid morning in August, plastic bags filled with rocks dropping down to me from the rowboat floating above my head. Pieces of notebook paper curl up inside the bags, messages written in Rosa’s light cursive distorted by the waves passing by. I could read them if I wanted. But I do not. This is where I go to be alone, not to have younger sisters throw rocks at me from above.

The messages grow more frequent, bags of rocks just barely missing my body where it
lies at the bottom of the lake behind the house where Rosa and I grew up. The sun is likely beginning to rise, turning the fields surrounding it shades of gold and bronze. The lake, the fields, the house, they always seemed to glow in the early morning light.

I wonder if my sister might try to tip the boat, try to jump into the water and swim down towhere I wait. But she must know that she can’t. My sister is an angel, and everyone knows it,especially Rosa herself. Her wings would drag her down, wrapping around her and enclosing her in darkness, suffocating her with the very thing that I hold nearest and dearest to my heart, second only to her.

She is leaning over the side of the boat now, her image distorted by the water, but I can
still clearly make out her dark hair, her searching eyes. Her wings are tucked behind her. They appear wilted, shedding their feathers quicker than I can blink. Her mouth is moving, and if I concentrate, I can hear a dull murmur over the blanket that the water creates, muffling all but the loudest sound. I cannot make out any specific words, but yet I can still tell what she is saying, and it sounds so clear that it’s almost as if I was sitting right next to her on the rowboat.

“Do we have to do this every morning?” she asks me, despite knowing that I cannot
respond. I fight off a smile at her exasperated tone, sounding strange coming from her tiny ten-year-old body. “You have to come to the surface eventually. I made breakfast for you.” I almost laugh out loud at that. Rosa is many things, but she is no chef.

The rowboat rocks above, and Rosa’s head disappears from the edge. Only the tips of
her wings are still visible, poking out from the sides of the boat, looking almost like devil horns. She sighs. “Mom and Dad are waiting for you, you know. You can’t stay here forever.” That’s redundant, I think. I have to come the surface eventually. I can’t stay here forever.

She sighs again, this one more drawn out. A hand grazes the surface of the water,
tracing meaningless patterns into the lake. They disappear a millisecond after they are created. Nothing lasts forever, I think. Not the sun. Not the water. Not even Rosa, or me. “I miss my sister.” It’s impossible to tell if the words came from my mind or Rosa’s mouth.

“Why do you like the water more than you like us?” Because the water does not judge.
The water cannot be disappointed.

“I don’t understand you.” And I don’t understand you. I don’t understand how you can be afraid of something that can give me the only thing that I have ever desired – a place to be alone. And I don’t understand how you can be so perfect, an angel in a world of devils, someone who will give in a world where everyone else takes.

“I’m not an angel.” It’s as if she responded to my thoughts, as if she can hear me. It
makes sense. She was the only one who understood me as the water did. “I’m not perfect. I’m selfish and I’m strange. Just look at me. I used to be afraid of drowning. Now I row out here every morning to talk to a dead body.” I know that she is finished speaking when the oars push the water away from the boat, propelling it back to the shore.

I’ve never understood the fear of drowning.