Swim Deep the Soul

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


The water roared into the cast iron tub, its warmth inviting. Today, I said my final goodbyes to my twin sister, the one person I loved more than any other. The one person who hurt me more than any other. She forced me to say goodbye to her love and friendship years ago. And today my heart raged as her corporeal body sank into the earth.

Her diary and heart-shaped locket sat awaiting my inspection on the bathroom vanity. The executor of her estate swore it was Heather’s last wish that I receive these as quickly as possible. Why? Did she provide an answer for our discarded relationship in those tattered pages? Would her locket replace the love I lost all those years ago?

I snatched the locket from the vanity and held it up against the one hanging from my neck. Gifts from our grandmother on our eighth birthdays. They were identical, just like us, our grandma had told us. Identical? Hardly.

Wishing the tub to fill faster, I clenched my sister’s locket in one hand, and reached for the rushing water with the other. The warmth was soothing. The roar, oddly, sounded like laughter. A child’s laughter.

I closed my eyes and allowed the recollection of bath time shared with my baby sister to wash over me. My baby sister, she was only a few minutes younger than me. Once in the tub, it wasn’t until the water chilled before we’d get out. Our teeth would chatter as we ran to the bedroom wrapped in towels.

We loved the water. The lake was our favorite place, and we spent every summer there. From sunup till sundown we were splashing, swimming, or napping on the dock. And we’d always have the time of our lives tubing behind the old Bayliner. At least until Heather’s accident.

I leaned in further, seeking the warmth, causing the water to splash on my arm and chest, soaking my locket and robe. The water-stained robe brought back memories of that day. My chest tightened as I struggled to stifle a sob. It didn’t work, and soon the tears were burning my cheeks.

Heather wasn’t breathing when dad plucked her from the water. I wailed as he gave her mouth to mouth and performed chest compressions. I thought for sure she was gone. Then a lungful of water came up, followed by a coughing fit. The racket of her cough had never sounded so sweet.

I opened my eyes, staring at the running water. My chest was on fire, raging as I recalled a crucial fact; that was the day she pulled away from me.

Heather became serious after the accident. She wanted to spend her time alone, reading. As if studying ghosts and the afterlife could be more exciting than playing in the water with her sister. To be honest, it hurt. I felt like I had lost a part of myself.

Then, one day, she decided she wanted to chat about her crazy new hobby. Where was my sister? I had asked her. Every attempt I made to bring her back to the real world was met with apathy. She had experienced something during that accident, and it had changed her.

My heart soured at the sight of her diary on the vanity. If it did contain the answer I was looking for, would it be enough to quell this grudge I carried?

I dried the water from my chest and hands and snatched up the tattered book. The passing years had only deepened my desire to understand her choices, and the strange beliefs she manifested through her studies.

I opened the cover. A ruby red tassel lay against the crease. It was the end of a bookmark, saving a spot near the end of the diary. I quickly flipped the pages to the marked location. There, written in my sister’s beautiful handwriting, was my name.

Her note read; My sweet sister Abbigail, how I’ve missed you all these years. I doubt you have any understanding of the journey I’ve been on. Oh, sister, what an amazing journey it has been. The day of my accident, I saw something very profound. A whole other world beyond this one. A world where hate and envy simply don’t exist. A place where vulnerability is accepted, even worshipped. A place where I could truly be me, just as I am.

After the accident, I wanted only two things, to explore that world and to share it with you. I think my discovery scared the daylights out of you because my attempts to share it only seemed to fuel your fear. After several attempts to share my revelations were met with anger, I had no choice but to simply leave you be.

I’m so sorry, sister, I wanted so much to share this with you, but I could no longer wait. I hope your fear doesn’t keep you from finding me. I’m so excited to begin our relationship anew from the afterlife.

My love always,

Heather.

“My fault. MY FAULT!” I screamed at the thundering water.

Boiling pressure climbed over my scalp. I threw the diary to the floor.

“You little bitch! I waited years for you to be my sister again. And now I find you blamed ME!”

I squeezed her locket so hard it hurt. I tore my own locket from my neck, the chain bringing a line of red fire to my skin. The roar of the water followed me as I ran from the bathroom.

I compressed both lockets in a clenched fist and threw back my arm. I screamed “Sister,” so loud she couldn’t help but hear over the rushing water. I threw the lockets, both colliding with my jewelry box with an all too unsatisfying clink.

Silence.

My throat constricted in panic.

I turned to the bathroom. The water had stopped.


Submitted: September 06, 2022

© Copyright 2022 Jeff Cochran. All rights reserved.

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