I hope I don’t forget what it felt like to swim out there. Finally I didn’t ask to listen to the little voice in my head that knew what it wanted. I wanted to ask Megan or Christine to go with me, to join me in the lake. Because if someone came with me then I had permission. I was always looking for permission to be alive. I put my book down and looked at them, my best friends, on our last trip before Christine leaves for school in Colorado. I think most of all, though, is that if I relied on me saying it out loud, asking, then it wouldn’t happen. “I’m going to go in the lake.” “Right now?” Megan asks. “Yeah.” “I’ll go, too” they both say.
I put on my bathing suit, which is still wet from our swim earlier. I look at my sunburned skin. At the way you can tell it’s radiating heat just by looking at it. I get to the dock first, Christine behind me. She waits for Megan. I step in. I start to swim.
I keep swimming. The watery resistance surrounding my arms, my legs; kicking. The sun is setting and I hear them talking in the distance. I keep going. Keep reaching for more liquid handles, and I finally feel what I’ve always wanted. Something cold around me. Something reminding me what it is to breath.
I stop. I look back and they’re closer to shore. I look around at the summer sky streaked with highlighters and think about how I was treading even before I got in the water. How it always feels like I’m kicking to stay up.
I lay on my back and the sounds of the world are drowned out. Literally drowned by water.
Christine swims out to me and I’m happy to have her there. To be there with both of them. We yell something to Megan, and it doesn’t matter that I cannot remember what we yelled because the point is that we did it. That we let ourselves be loud enough to travel across waves. Christine says something to me, and it doesn’t matter that I cannot remember what she said because the point is that we were laughing.
That night we sat on the deck before going in for the night. Megan smoked a cigarrette and Christine and I smoked normal air. My eye caught on the star right as it streaked through the sky and I thought about what it felt like to swim out there. Staring at the sky I wished that I will always follow my heart.