Part One- From Aya's point of view
The sky is clouded, and the breeze is on the edge of cold, but I think it is warm enough to swim. Because I don't want to be
in my house. Because its all stress inside. The water relaxes me. It soothes my frayed nerves. It is like putting lotion on dry skin. It removes dead skin, while rejuvenationating and awakening
what is still funtional. Swimming helps me awaken the pieces of my mind that are still funtional. I put my bathing suit on under my clothing, so that no one will notice. I don't need a
towel...because I can air dry. None of the people in my house will be looking for me. They will be busy. Mom will be cooking, and dad will be working away at his computer in his office. Alice will
be playing music, loudly. It would hurt my ears, if I was there. Rodney would be running around the house, trying to get together his homework at the last minute, and Lilly would be throwing a
tantrum when Mom doesn't give her a cookie. So, my absence will not be noticed. I have a bag under my bed, with sun block, and a water bottle. I take the bag, and sneak into the kitchen. Mom is
setting the table in the dining room, so when I take one of the tomato sandwiches she made for tomorrow, and an apple, it goes unnoticed. I also grab a cookie, and hand it to Lilly. She smiles at
me, and she takes it in her little pink fingers. She was always my favorite sibling. She was the only one who even really cared about me. I slip the apple and sandwich into my bag, and tip-toe out
the back door. I don't bother being quiet once I make it to the tree line, because I am already home free. I pull my hair out of the bun I had it twisted in. It flys out behind me, and I glide
into the woods. The crisp autumn foliage crunches beneath my feet, as I approach the lake. Its crystal, blue waters shimmer, despite the overcast, welcoming me with the roar of the stream feeding
I hang my bag over a branch, and strip my clothes off. I lay them on a rock, and wade in. The sand at the bottom is sticky
mud, but feels good to me. The sun suddenly appears, as the clouds drift away, and it warms me, starting with the top of my head. The water is cold, but I like it. It keeps me awake, and alert.
Then, I hear rustling coming from beyind the brush, and I duck beneath the surface. I wasn't afraid; but it was kinda an instinct. But when I open my eyes, I resurfaced because it was only Ben.
Ben is my closest friend. I honestly don't remember the first time I met him, but Mom says it was in preschool, when I took his toy dinosaur, and he started crying. Ben usually comes to the water
on days like these, because he knows that I will be here.
"Hey, water bug," He says, smiling at the old nickname. I splash in his direction, but the water barely reaches him. He
laughs, and crouches by the edge of the lake. I glide through the water, closer to him. I glance up at the sun.
"I wasn't expecting such nice weather, today," I say casually. I stand, and water runs down my legs.
"Aren't you gonna swim? Its nice," I add. He rolls his eyes, but I know the answer already. He was in khaki shorts, and a
green cotton T-shirt. He would swim, whenever he was in shorts. His parents didn't care. They thought that any time that he could spend with me, the better. His parents were always hoping that I
would be his first girl friend, since they knew me so well. But if I ever went out with Ben, it would ruin everything. You don't want things to be awkward between you and your best friend.
Sometimes, I wish we could be more than friends. He sighs, then laughs.
"You know I am gonna swim. What do you think I came here for? Spending time with my friend?" He says sarcastically. He kicks
his shoes off, and tosses his socks behind him.
"Swim, water bug!" He shouts, and then he shoves me into the water. The chill and alarm fades, as I slowly rise, watching
bubbles find their way up. Then, I see a wave of more bubbles, and Ben is under water beside me. He smiles, and I melt inside. Then, the bubbles push me up to the surface. He doesn't immediately.
It takes him about a minute, and I begin to worry. Just before I go in after him, he surfaces. His breathing returns in sharp, ragged breaths. I think he is fine. Then, he starts coughing. At
first, I think he is pulling a prank on me.
"Oh, stop it!" I laugh, and I shove him by the shoulder. But there is fear in his eyes. The coughing is stonger, and he begins
struggling to stay above water. I panic. What could be wrong? He starts sinking. I dive beneath the surface, and search the blue water for my friend. I spot him near the bottom, and I swim deeper.
The pressure is strong against my ears. The water darkens as I go deeper, and then there is practically no light at all. I grab him around the waist, and try to swim up. I kick my feet against the
bottom, and push him up. Finally, I crawl beneath him, and grind me feet into the mucky bottom. He floats up, and I feel relief. Then, I start to swim up, but I can't. My feet are encased in the
muddy ground, and tangled up in something. Panic. Oxygen is not reaching my brain, so my thoughts are blurred. I can not sort out what I am thinking, except one thought. I am going to die here.
When I have established that, time seems to slow down. I am going to die here, but Ben will not. That is the thought that is most important. Until I see him sinking back down. He is unconscinece,
and must have been unable to swim back to shore. Therefore, he sank again.
I know that I have been down here for too long.The only words that come to my head aer the latin words acerbus, (gloomy, dark,
no light,) and neco. To be killed, or slain. Soon, conscienceness would be leaving me. As it already left Ben. Then, my mind is cluttered again. I am no longer scared for myself. I know that there
is nothing I can do. My foot is sunken under two feet of mud, and tangled in weed. I will not see the surface world ever again. But I had an awful feeling. I had to do something. Ben couldn't die.
It was my fault. If I hadn't come here, Ben would't either. Or if my family- My family...how long would it take them to notice my absence? An hour? A day? They wouldn't be able to find
me...because I would be rotting away at the bottom of a lake. I am not fighting anymore. In fact, I was not even standing anymore. Ben was beside me. The pressure on me was barely even noticable
any more, compared to the burning in my chest. I struggle to move my arms, and I wrap them around him. I close my eyes, and think, 'I'm sorry.' I don't know who I was directing that thought
at...maybe Ben, or his family. And my family. Black spots bloom, clouding my vision. The hurting stops. Everything stops. Its over.
Part Two- From Lilly's point of view
I am twelve now. That means that it has been eight years since Aya died. We didn't notice she was gone. Thats what hurt the
most. Maybe, if we noticed her absence, then we could have saved her. But we didn't. Hours after she left, Ben's mom called Daddy. She said that ben had been missing, and she thought that Aya and
Ben might have been together. Then we noticed. Daddy started to telll her that Aya was at home, but she wasn't. So, we started looking. We found her clothes on a rock by the lake, and Momma called
the police. They found her and Ben in the lake. Drowned. Now, in the present day, it is Memorial Day. Momma drove us to the lake, where we made her a 'grave,' on the rock where we found her
clothes and Ben's shoes. Ben's mom came also. Ben apparently had a sister, a few years younger than me. Her name is Rana.When she got out of the car, her eyes were red and puffy, like she had
been crying. I walked over to her.
"Hiya...I'm Lilly," I introduced myself. She wiped her eye, and tried to pretend she hadn't been crying.
"I'm Rana," She extends her hand to me, and I take it in mine. Its soft, and damp from her tears. Then, she gives me her
complete trust. I think it is because I am the only one who understands. She opens up to me, and for the first time since Aya died, I open up, too. We talk about everything. How her brother used to
make her lunch and how my sister used to take me to the park on sunny days. The sun beat down on us, (it was an especially warm May) so, we took a swim. I can't see her face, but I see ripples in
the water, where her tears fall. She is crying again. She must have thought that she would never set foot into the lake that took her brother. I thought the same thing about my sister. But here we
were. I step back, and I hold her hand. She was younger than me, so I had to set an example. I think that it was also comforting for me to comfort sombody else.
"Its okay..." She whimpers, obviously embarrassed to be crying. But it isn't okay.
"No. you have the right to be crying. It isn't okay..." I trail off, to see what her reponse is.
"I'm cold," She lies. She can't do it. She just can't swim here. Not on this day, so much like that day, eight years ago. I
release her hand, and she starts to walk away. But she stops in her tracks, and whispers something. She says it again.
"Look." I turn my head, to see what she was talking about. And I saw it. It was the reflection of the sun, and a cloud, but it
wasn't. It was moving in a way that can't be natural. It was Aya and Ben. Angels. They were holding hands, and smiling. They were flying, but they weren't. They were swimming. This time, my tear
drops, and the ripple lands on the reflection, and it disappeared. Rana looks up at me, her face red and splotchy, yet glowing. She is alight with happiness, and I hear a giggle escape her lips. I
can see years of crying herself to sleep, and nightmares, suddenly leaving her. Like an angel getting wings. Because Ben and Aya are not gone. They never were. We are swimming with
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