I Dived, I Ruined

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
a short story about how peer pressure can change you life and also that small mistake can lead to big disasters

Submitted: November 27, 2016

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Submitted: November 27, 2016

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I Dived, I Ruined

When I glanced down at the stirring water, I realized I had no choice but to jump. As I sucked in a deep, shaky breath, I felt my throat constrict. What once started as a seedling of worry grew into a storm of panic that rose like the bile in my throat. Suddenly, I had forgotten how to walk or even move. I just stood there blankly, staring at the horror before me. My palms started to sweat and the thought I tried so hard to forget suddenly appeared in the center of my mind. As I wiped the sweat from my hands onto my swimming trunks, the sea of anxiety deep down swished as I finally mustered enough energy to take one shaky step and then another. I debated with myself one last time over whether I, a six-foot tall male college student should be diving to my death in the four-foot pool. But yet again, the pressure and anxiety overtook my decision.

The other boys had all dived in safely so I was sure to be fine but deep down, I knew that even I, couldn’t believe the false hope that I had created. I turned my head towards the other lifeguards in doubt but, as I expected, the other boys started to glare at me, and I knew I had no time left. Slowly, I crouched down hesitantly on the white block like a frightened tiger and wiped the sweat that stung my eyes. Then I shuddered slightly, my vision darkened as I snapped on my tinted goggles over the drops of emerald ice that I called my eyes and looked down at the four-foot thick water that waited to encase my body.

* * * * * *

Quickly, I ducked my head with uncertainty but I knew that I couldn’t survive a second of mocking. My last breath of the precious air was sucked in before I pushed off of the hard, worn-down board, into the open air without a doubt of my decision, in hope that in a miracle, I would still live after diving into the four feet deep pool.

As I flew through the air, my six-foot long body flew forward, curved inwards in a perfect swimmer’s arc. My soft brown hair pushed back, flat against my scalp as I tightened my stomach and straightened my legs. When I soared closer and closer to the water, I closed my eyes and waited for the blow that would signal my doom.

The impact of the water shocked me as I pushed past the protective boundary of the water. One, two, three, four, five. The five seconds of horror never came and I glided through the water, the feeling of insecurity dispersing. I lived in a magical moment as I relaxed and floated through the water as if I slept on a cloud, relieved that I was safe. Gracefully, l became a penguin and glided about, eyes shut with the trust of my permanent mental image of the pool’s every curve and edge in my head. Suddenly, I felt my eyes snap open. Instincts on alert, I knew something didn’t feel right and looked around. Left, right, down, up. No matter where I looked, I couldn’t figure out what caused my sudden feeling of unease but as I turned my head downwards again... I realized that I was diving straight down to the hard concrete ground.

Slamming my back neck against the rough ground, I felt a surge of pain ripping towards my back as if my spine ripped through my skin. The nape of my neck became numb in pain as I tried to look around but couldn't control my body to do as I pleased. As the world began to slowly fade away, my eyes caught the glimpse of the water, stained like a thick ruby river.

* * * * * *

I woke up to the sound of annoying beeps coming from a weird machine and the overwhelming smell of antiseptic. My sight was still blurry as if someone had put a water bottle cap over each of my eyes, but as my sight began to clear up, it gave me a frightening surprise. A long tube was slyly slipped inside my arm and... IS THAT MY BLOOD? This couldn’t have been worse. An unfamiliar room with a tube trying to steal my blood? Sometimes I knew I could accept things, but this was overstepping my personal boundaries.

In the quick determination to stop this illicit action, I swung my arm up to take out the vile tube that was purloining my precious blood. Or so I tried. My arm would not budge a single millimeter despite my attempts and pleadings. What was going on? In confusion, I attempted to move my other arm, in hopes that result would be different, but I still received the same answer from both arms. Subsequently, I attempted to move both of my legs and didn’t get a single response. What was happening? Why couldn’t I move any of my limbs? Was this even my body? There was no way that this could be happening.

Eyes scanning the room, I saw sterile white walls and minimal furniture plus a few machines. Was this Heaven? Or maybe it was foreshadowing the later years of my life like in the movie, A Christmas Carol? Yes, that was it. I knew that this could never happen to me. Fingers pinched my transparent skin, ruby red rivers that flowed through. My eyes fluttered shut before they blinked open and… the room came back into my view. Then, as a nurse with rough blue scrubs walked in, it suddenly clicked in my brain. The machines, sterile white walls, the beeping machines, and now a nurse? I WAS IN THE HOSPITAL?

“OH, HONEY YOU’RE AWAKE! I NEED TO TELL YOUR DOCTOR!”, she yelled in excitement as she ran out the door to inform a doctor. After a few seconds, I heard the clicks of high heels hitting the tile floor become louder and louder until it stopped right before the room I laid in. There, my beautiful mother stood in the dim doorway with hands that covered her mouth in attempt to hold back her sobs, still unable to grasp the fact that I was actually awake. Her makeup stained cardigan drooped off one of her lowered shoulder, legs weak from incredulity. She finally entered the room in relief. Right towards me, she ran and she hugged me tight as if I had died and come back to life. Her once soft, brushed, brown hair was now tangled. Her emerald ice eyes swollen from tears and outlined with bags of gray from a night where rest was absent. Face covered in tears that dripped and her makeup smeared from her endless worry. My mother was bent over me, where she sat with my limp body embraced in her arms. We stayed entwined like two vines as our eyes shed streams of tears that descended like a broken necklace of pearls.

After endless crying, we ultimately cleaned ourselves up and my mother sat so we could talk.

“So Mother… Could you please tell me why I am in the hospital?” I asked. She slowly looked up with the tears reappearing back in her dark eyes.

“Matthew, I know you don’t want to hear this, but you were in an accident and…”, she choked out, stuttering like a toy dropped down a set of stairs too many times. Oh. My heart started to beat and thump, faster and faster. Eyes squeezed shut, I braced myself for the news, praying that it would be the peak of my mountain range.

“.... you’re paralyzed from your neck down because you broke almost all your bones in your spine including your nerves,” my mother finished.

When I heard the word “paralyzed”, my senses stopped as I tried to grasp the situation. How come, I couldn’t remember anything? All I knew was that my dream job was now fifty universes away and my life was ruined. My soul cried as I slowly processed the miserable news. How could my life get completely ruined in just twenty-four hours? This was a dream. It had to be. Just a few seconds before, I lived such a happy life. Unable to speak or comprehend, I sat silently, waiting for this dream to end.

* * * * * *

At the bottom of the tall lifeguard tower, I stood as the sign, above me, that stated my new life in red bolded letters, “Lifeguards ONLY”, slowly flapped in the gentle winds. It was my fifth shift of the week but I still couldn’t believe that I was able to have a job I enjoyed.

The white-washed wood was heated from where I leaned on. My orange and white swim trunks were hot to the touch from the hours they had faced with the sun. I had given up my seat so that my partner would be able to sit under the umbrella, that barely stood against the overwhelming strength of the sun. Though I was farther from the heat down here, I could barely stay shaded from the blistering summer rays that had been the culprit of my dark, tan skin. I took a breath and inhaled the intense, burning smell of chlorine and sunscreen.

Something in the air made me want to stay here every day; It was the laughter that floated through the forest where the children climbed the old trees that rustled and swayed to the heartbeat of the wind. Or maybe it was the vines that embraced the old neighborhood, protecting the walls with layers of their thin yet strong stems. Or the delicious desserts that the stores along the road were known for.

 
 

All the wear and tear of the run-down neighborhood represented the history and told stories of the unforgettable memories and unceasing relationships that made the neighborhood so special and unique.

Without it, I would never feel at home. My feelings couldn’t express, in simple words, of the sensation that filled the emptiness of my mind. My job was something that I could enjoy more than others could say. I was able to watch and enjoy the kids playing in the gleaming pool and splashing water around and prancing about. Every single person that came to the pool contributed to my happiness, who acted like a stepping stone to my success in life. My dream job was to become a PE coach. Though I knew that the job would bring more obstacles than ever, it would never get replaced because it was what I wanted and I vowed to myself that it would become attained.

It would bring excitement into the dullness of my life to see people enjoying their existence daily. Not only in the summer as a lifeguard, but as a children’s instructor where I could enjoy children advance to the things that they could never dream of.

Many days, I would sit and think about how great my future would be when I become a PE coach. My soul believed that watching the children bloom like a flower was a special honor that only few could receive. I would be able to see the purest source of life that many didn’t know about; to be able to experience the magic that made children so beautiful and pure.

Children possessed something that you and I have both lost; the quality of innocence. Their innocence wasn’t ignorance. It was that special quality we had all held when we were young but had lost to the evil fight with temptations that we fell for like a rock falling from the sky. Though I tried to earn money to achieve my dream faster, there was never enough of anything to satiate life. So, I thrived for a job that I could still enjoy and that's when I became a lifeguard.

* * * * * *

My mother left, unable to see my tears of pain. I sat for what felt like half an hour, but was instead actually three hours, before I noticed a few policemen come in.

“Hello, Matthew. We were wondering if we could ask you a few questions,” they asked with doubtful faces. Still, in my ruined world, I nodded my head slowly without knowing what I agreed to.

“Okay, we just wanted to ask how you got injured so we can see if we can help you in any way or even find the cause of your accident,” Paul, the main police officer, asked, his deep voice slow but deliberate.

“Sir, I can’t,” I said. He gave me a questioning look.

“This is just a dream that is about to end.” I finished, looking at Paul with certainty.

“Matthew, I know this is hard but we need to know what happened. Maybe these items might help you remember something,” Paul calmly explained as he took out a clear bag with a familiar orange and white swimsuit.

Staring at the bag, my anger started to rise more and more. Not pleased at the way he found something that could mean this was really happening. As I looked at him more and more, my anger filled to the brim of its’ containment and overflowed.

“IT NEVER HAPPENED! DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND?! THIS IS JUST A DREAM ABOUT TO END! I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO ME! DO YOU THINK OF ME AS SOME IDIOT OR PSYCHO?! I KNOW THAT THIS DIDN’T HAPPEN SO STOP. BOTHERING. ME!” I yelled as my voice cracked in erupted anger that overwhelmed my mind.

“Matthew, please calm down!”

“NO, I WON’T ACCEPT THIS! YOU DON’T EXIST! I WON’T EVER HAVE TO SEE YOU! THIS ISN’T HAPPENING AND WON’T EVER HAPPEN! BACK IN REALITY, I LIVE A GREAT LIFE AS A LIFEGUARD WHO HAS A HAPPY LIFE WHEN THIS DISGUSTING DREAM ENDS!” I screamed as tears rolled down my cheeks. My breath came out ragged as I tried to calm down. The police stood silent in sympathy and walked out slow. As the police left, I caught the glimpse of their unreadable expressions before they tilted their faces down, faceless under their hats.

My mind racked through my memories to prove that this was all but a dream. I knew I would prove them wrong. Days passed as I tried to find evidence of this “accident” they kept speaking of. Every day I would search till I had a migraine and yet, I couldn’t find anything. One day, my mind looked into the “right spot” and saw a glimpse of an uncanny memory hiding at the bottom of my sack of memories. My mind dug deeper and deeper for days until I had finally uncovered the heart-wrenching explanation for the ruin of my life. I discovered it deep in my memories. Not too sudden, not too subtle, it simply came to me. The single memory I buried, filled with regret of my rash decision, in fear that this all could really happen. But now I couldn’t hide it anymore.

It was obvious, and I couldn’t deny it anymore.

But it hurt so much to accept it.

I couldn’t move. I couldn’t do the things I wanted to. All day, every day, the boundaries of the hard hospital bed chained and confined me to this miserable life. The scent of the room felt so cheery, yet so fake, as if they wanted me to think that everything that would happen next would be just fine... but it wasn’t.

It was astounding to know how long time really was. I ran out of it daily, yet every time I took a step back, it was really not that long. So there I was, laid down on my hard death bed and unable to move, regretting the things I could have done. I knew I didn’t have to dive into the pool that was shorter than my height yet I did. I ponder over the things I would do if I had a do-over. But that was the problem. I didn’t have a do-over. And I would never get one.

 
 


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