Beneath The Water

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
Warning: Read at your own risk. Seriously. Warning:May be cliché.
"Eventually I forgot the warmth of family, the love between partners, the laughter of my child and focused on who I was before I had all of that. Before I was a mother, a lover, a family, I thought I was a conqueror, a warrior ready to take on the world. It turns out I was just a girl."

This was written in honor of Halloween. It is October after all, but it turned into something very different. It's a new style and a new genre and new everything for me that I've never tested my hand at.

So, if you can reach the end of this story, please let me know what you think, as I'm not even sure what I think of it. And if you think it's garbage, tell me it's garbage and I'll throw it away or just keep it hidden in a locked file..

sidenote: This was supposed to be fun to write.

Submitted: October 14, 2015

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 14, 2015

A A A

A A A


The water inside the boxed pool was stagnant. It smelled of chlorine and clogged my nose with reminders of bleach and ammonia. I dipped my legs in the pool testing the brisk water before I jumped in mercilessly. Submersed, I floated midway between the bottom and the sky. My chalk black hair was suspended around my head. My eyes were half lidded. All I saw was a blur of flailing hands and feet and endless blue. Fake blue. Muffled airplane engines sounded above me and distant voices chattered, penetrating the water. That was odd because I was the only one here . Maybe more people had decided to swim; after all it was deathly hot this fall. I paddled my way to the top and poked my head out of the water drinking in gulps of air. Looking around me to my vague surprise no one was there. The seats were all vacant and the cement bare. I glanced to my belongings. Still there, I sighed in relief. Dismissing the voices as a tenant from one of the apartments talking too loudly, I leaned back in the water letting my legs and stomach float up. My eyes faced the blue sky where jets shot across my vision. There was silence and I closed my eyes, relaxing and floating on my back across the length of the pool. Opening them again, I took in the apartment complex that enclosed the pool inside four walls of flats. Endless halls meandered through each level like a maze. Five, Six, Seven. Seven levels. A dash of white dress and ribbon snatched my eye to the far corner on the seventh floor. The girl was there and then gone. How sweet I thought. A game of hide and seek. I missed the worriless days I could laugh and play. I waited for the girl to re-emerge from her corner but she never did. Maybe she decided to go inside I thought sadly. Then tried to think something else, because my thoughts were becoming far too maternal. In a million years, I thought dryly.

As the time passed the water became a dark, mysterious abyss as most water did at night. I dove into its depths exhilarated by the night, the dark, and the full moon’s glow and once again heard voices but they weren’t muffled. A little girl’s voice called out to me searching for something yet I couldn’t understand what . I couldn’t discern everything she was saying and she was too young to express in words what she lacked.  A man’s voice this time whispered “Don’t you love me? Tell me you love me.”“Evelynn, Evelynn” their voices rang in unison. My eyes shot wide open revealing bloodshot whites. I tried to mouth words to respond but cold water rushed into my mouth and nose. I kicked. I kicked hard to reach the top, to reach the glimmering moon but it was as if my body was moving through drying cement. Air pounded against my chest inside of my lungs. They screamed for breath.  The last thing I heard before everything went black was a whisper ‘ You are dead. You are dead and gone’

And then my chest was being pounded hard. Water spouted from my lips and I gasped for breath. I struck out. Get off me! You don’t belong here. Get off me! My mind screamed as I swung my hands out trying to strike at the invader. Strong hands pinned my arms to my side. My vision became clearer as a voice cooed to me that it was okay and that I was safe. The face that belonged to the voice came into view. It was a young man, perhaps around my age, maybe a little bit older. He scanned my face worriedly and suddenly embarrassed I pushed him off of me. What was I going to say happened? Voices had spoken to me? That they tried to drown me? I sounded like a lunatic even to myself and maybe I was one. My grandma died of a brain tumor and apparently it ran in the family because my father did too.  They both suffered from hallucinations before death took them.The man asked if I was okay but I didn’t respond too lost in thoughts of tumors and painful slow deaths. What was I going to tell my mother? I was twenty-two. The tumor wasn’t set to strike until at least thirty more years. But that wasn’t the most terrifying part about all of this. A thought nagged at me in the back of my mind, causing more dread. If it was a tumor, why couldn’t I reach the top? A state of mind? Frozen in fear?

***

The doctor tacked  the xrays of my brain scan onto the lighted wall. “There’s nothing wrong with you, Eva. You are one of my healthiest patients and you are not even close to the age of needing to worry about this. Why the sudden fear?” He seemed to inquire almost knowingly. You try being the victim of genetics and then ask me that I thought sinisterly.

I was relieved but it hadn’t escaped me that that meant that night had not been a hallucination. A chill worked its’ way up my spine. Then what was it?  The voices still haunted me and burdened my dreams that night; endless nightmares of pale faces stalking my movements in the shadows, waiting for me in the waters, staring down at me from the trees. However different the scenery, through each nightmare floated a fluid pink bow... Come to noose me, I now thought cynically. The man in my dreams hunted me down, sheathed a knife and threatened to kill me unless I complied to his will. The only problem was I didn’t know his will, so the nightmares continued on in endless cycles, tantalizing me until I screamed and my roommate woke me up.

I quickly replied “I had a… nightmare that seemed very real. I thought it could have been a precursor to hallucinations”

The doctor laughed “Oh, hallucinations don’t work like that” and he patted me on the head as if I were a silly child. All I could do was grin and bear.

The next day I yearned to swim despite my resolve that I would never step foot in a pool again let alone this one, yet the water called to me like a siren’s song. I slid into my black swimsuit as black was my natural affiliation and the next moment I was standing over the pool gazing into its pristine cleanliness. Nothing sinister about it. If you don’t count the chlorine.The 8 AM morning sun glimmered piercing through the water like a knife, and my vision followed the light to the bottom where a few leaves had fallen. That’s okay I calmed myself. It happens in the fall. My eyes raked the bottom, noting every crevice of the pool with the utmost precision until they landed on an unidentifiable blob near the steps on the shallow end. Entranced I walked to that corner to take a closer look. The blob bobbed against the stairs,  it’s slimy, leafy tentacles reaching out. But no. It wasn’t a weed like I had initially observed it to be. The texture was all wrong and it was thinner than that. My eyes hardened when it dawned on me. It was hair; blonde human hair. It looked like a chunk of it had been ripped out. The unnaturality of it plagued me with thoughts of death, murder, and ghosts.

When my mind returned to itself it was midday and my bones ached from standing in one frozen position for too long. Snapping to attention, I turned as it had been a voice that woke me from my trance. The guy that saved me last week was staring at me waiting for a response. I balled my fists, a habit I picked up when I was nervous or  mortified.

“What did you say?” my voice croaked out as if I hadn’t spoken for years like an old machine unused to it’s forgotten mechanics.

“Are you afraid?” He repeated looking at me expectantly with a small glint in his eye.

God. Was this the most exciting happening for him right now? Fine, he saved me. Couldn’t he leave me alone now? “No, I am not afraid” my voice rose, proud and confident in its response. It was the Starling practice to never admit to fear.

“Then why haven’t you gotten in yet?” he questioned cockily as if he knew me better than I knew myself.

I tried to think of a fitting lie but none of them made sense. So, instead I said defensively “None of your business.”

He smiled in return. “Fine, just asking but I know I would be scared too if I almost drowned for seemingly no reason in this very pool” he pointed at it. His statement was meant as an inquiry. An inquiry I had dodged the night he saved me. I shifted uncomfortably this time thinking of a plausible lie.

“I slipped on the wet pavement and hit my head. I must have fallen in because the next thing I remember you were beating my chest to death.” I playfully accused to redirect the attention to anything else but this.

“It’s called CPR. I saved your life”  He smiled cockily again.

“And I thanked you for that.”

“Thank me by accompanying me to dinner tonight.”

I stared at him blankly. Something told me he was capable of interpreting the look.

“I saved your life, your whole clumsy essence, the only reason you’re standing here today is because  I rescued you and you think a simple thanks is enough?”

He had a point. Going to dinner was the least I could do. But I couldn’t help myself.

I replied “Ever the humble hero, aren’t you?”

“Oh, I’m not a hero.... Heroes don’t save people for rewards.” With that he gave a quick smirk and uttered “Be by the front entrance at 8. Wear something nice”

I glowered at his back as he walked away.

As I readied myself for this ominous date or whatever it was, I played with the idea of dressing in grunge in abject defiance:  ripped jeans, loose shirt, beaten boots but I quickly dismissed that thought as childish petulance. Instead, I naturally found a black dress to pull over my head. The back dipped in a U-shape and spread from lace to solid black and the front was solid with black lace over it. The bottom of the dress hugged my hips and legs tightly. I slipped my feet into some black heels and curled my thick hair carefully looking in the mirror for assistance. Suddenly, I jumped back in horror. My hair had turned into a nightmare of thick tentacles that reminded me of Medusa’s snakes. That’s when I resolved to leave it natural and for me that was jet straight. Before I could fix it, a chime sounded out. My doorbell had rung.

I didn’t answer right away, hoping my roommate would instead but that was me in blissful denial. With a deep sigh I trotted to the door and begrudgingly pulled it open, tripping over my heels as I did. A short, loud laugh greeted me when I opened it.

“Are you planning on turning him to stone?” My best friend, Olive, blurted out.

I frowned and muttered “Maybe I was planning to turn you into stone.”

Olive offered a sympathetic smile at my sad ,sad retort.. “Oh, Eva. If anyone was immune to Medusa’s powers it would be me. Oh, look at that, you’re in all black. Shocking.”

“Oh, look at that. A rainbow vomited all over you again.” I eyed her tie dyed shirt and purple jeans, her feet encompassed with yellow sneakers. I had to commend her for her guts. No one else could pull that look off or would want to…

We both laughed and hugged lightly. Neither of us were much for affection  but we hadn’t seen each other for awhile. She followed me into my room saying “So, you almost drowned? How did that even happen?”

I told her the lie that I told.. God I didn’t even know his name beyond the guy that saved me. “I slipped, hit my head and must have ended up in the pool.” I said hoping she wouldn’t be able to discern I was lying yet she nodded along seemingly convinced as soon as I said I slipped.

“You are so clumsy. You really need to be more careful. They should make a special dog tag for you categorized under special circumstances: clumsy” she teased.

I glowered but didn’t say anything. It was true but it still irked me that in the one instance I’d escaped my clutzy habits, they were being blamed for my near death experience. But that was my fault. Olive dipped her hands in water and stroked them through my hair loosening the tight, monstrous curls I’d created. Much better, I nodded my approval in the mirror. My brown, yellow eyes stared back at me. I was a mix between asian and Native American yet my features were more asian; Chinese to be exact all except my almost feral eyes inherited from my father’s side of the family.

Olive disrupted my thoughts purposefully. “Eva. Eva. Geeze. You get so lost in your head sometimes. Here’s the necklace you asked for. Don’t ruin it, lose it, or abandon it during a night of heated passion or Jonathan will kill me.”

“I didn’t ask for it. You offer--” but Olive was already spouting out her goodbyes, promising that we would get to spend more time together later this week. I blew a single shot of air through my lips puffing them out. I don’t have time for you this week anyway. When Olive left, I added a few finishing touches to my look and promised myself I would never have to do this again. After all, it did take a near death experience to cave this one time. I doubted pool boy could manage to con me into another date and if he tried I knew how to walk away, even in these malicious heels. I glanced at the time, cursed and fled down the stairs to the front entrance. I’d once again lost myself inside my head.  

Yet the rush was for nothing. He wasn’t there. Nobody was. “Asshole” I muttered to myself and turned towards the glass doors only to stall in my tracks. Across from where I stood was a reflection, but the reflection wasn’t mine. The person that looked back at me was smaller; a child, wearing a white dress with a pink bow tied around her midriff. As she walked towards me, her doll dragging on the ground, time slowed and inside of the glass doors it started to rain. The rain wetted her blonde curly locks and stained her dress but she continued to walk towards me, a bright smile pulled across her face.

“Where are you going?” her voice tinkled.

“Home” I replied huskily. Why did I reply? I was talking to a figment of my imagination and if I was not and she was a ghost, I was talking to a ghost. Either way I should have bolted, but it was the girl's eyes that kept me hypnotized. Where had I seen them before?

“Don’t you remember?” she inquired innocently. And I was pulled back to earlier in the day before Olive visited, before the pool guy asked me out. Before I was here, I was there, at the pool watching the glob of blonde hair float towards the top mysteriously in my direction. As it rose the loose strands became fuller and before it broke the top more bulbous, outlining a..a skull? The head and then body broke the water, shooting outwardly, defying gravity in that one moment, and then falling back down to be cradled by the water. The entity staring at me was a little girl. Too young to know how to swim my maternal thoughts noted. Her skin was pale and tinted blue, water poured from her hair dripping down her eyelids and lips. She smiled brightly at me, revealing missing teeth and I held back a gasp. Had this girl been brutalized? There was a small scratch on her left cheek and her sleeve was torn.

“You’re pretty” the girl spoke as naturally as she would if she were alive, albeit with a slight lisp, the type of lisp kids learned to drop with time. This girl would never have the chance. She hadn’t opened her eyes yet but she could see me, that was clear. Something wet and cold touched my toe. I jumped slightly in fright and looked down to see my toes hanging over the edge of the pool. When had I gotten this close?

“Will you play a game with me?” She asked excitedly. When I didn’t reply she whined “Please, please, please.”

“Okay” I smiled reassuringly and asked what game she wanted to play. “Umm, I don’t know. We could play Hide and Seek...or the staring game..”She flashed her sea blue eyes open. I thought to myself Where had I seen them before? And the cycle continued.

“Hellooo” she laughed in belligerent excitement pulling me back to the present, but her sea blue eyes remained as dead as the bottom of the still ocean. A hand grabbed my shoulder and I swung out turning to face whoever touched me. It was Asshole. I breathed a sigh of relief as he uttered something about calming down, that he wasn’t that scary.

“You’re late” I said absently glancing back at the doors, the little girl now staring hatefully at me. I shuddered and followed Asshole down the steps leaving her to quake in her fury.

“I’m not late. See, a minute to spare” he smiled showing me his watch. “Are you always so prompt?”

I did a double take of the time and concluded that I must have accidentally switched my phone’s time to central time again. It wasn’t hard to do when each random touch pressed some unknown button that lead to more options.

“Technology” I muttered knowing I was far too dependant on it to survive without it, yet still finding its’ little flaws distressful.

Assho-- well, it would now be unfair to call him that so I settl-- “What’s your name?” I asked fed up with trying to give him my own. That was a parent's job afterall.

He looked back at me in surprise. “Trying to get to  know me?”

I smiled sweetly “Just tired of calling you Asshole in my head.”

He feigned hurt and answered curtly “Jackson”

I let out a small uncontrollable laugh. “Jackson” I repeated pure judgment in my voice.

He nodded slowly “You can call me Jack if it makes you feel better” and ushered me into his car.

“Aren’t you curious as to what my name is?”

“I know your name”

The pitch in my voice rose. “How do you know my name?”

“Relax. I’m not a stalker. It says next to your apartment complex number”

“Oh” I sat back embarrassed and relieved. And instantly perked up again “How do you know which apartment I live in?”

He smiled “Okay, maybe I am a stalker”

“Why would you---”

“Because I like you” he interrupted. “Before you become suspicious you should know that.”

I blushed unused to such blunt declarations.

He parked at a nice but subtle restaurant and slid out of his seat. I opened the door, receiving a stark whoosh of cold air and lifted myself up to find Jackson in front of my door.

He smiled “I was supposed to open the door for you.”

I laughed and adopted a Southern accent. “While you are the keen example of an outstanding gentleman, I’ll have you know I am every bit my own woman and can handle this savage machine myself, however dainty I may seem. Now move please. You are blocking my way.”

He glowered at me and walked over to the sidewalk to wait for me. I wasn’t a moment behind him when he turned and kissed me. After a couple of seconds my rigid stance transitioned into pliancy; at the same moment the kiss became softer it became deeper. His hands brushed through my hair stroking it passionately and I wrapped mine around his neck. It felt as if we were meant to be interlocked in each other’s arms. That’s when he pushed himself away from me leaving me frozen with my lips puckered mid air, my eyes closed and my arms outstretched. I opened them to see him standing a couple feet across from me, staring at me peculiarly with his green eyes, his silhouette blending into the black sky behind him.

I slowly lowered my arms and gave him an incredulous WTF look. He spoke “You didn’t flinch.”

“Oh...Kay..” my voice trailed off.

“I ran my hands all over your head and you didn’t flinch. The accident barely happened under a week ago and if you hit your head as hard as you say you did, you would still feel it.”

“Is that why you kissed me?” the words flew from my mouth high into the air. My chest was fluttering.

He didn’t answer my question. He simply continued his story. “You lied to me. It leads  me to wonder if you’ve been lying this entire time, ever since I bumped into you  and you acted as if you had no clue who I was. Years gone like that. I played along, played the part just to get a glimpse of my family once again. But as I waited and watched you I could see something was definitely wrong. You stared into the pool for hours. Spoke to people that weren’t there. Now I understand why they kept you from me. But if you’ve been lying to me this entire time…” He shook his head “Tonight I watched you stare into glass windows as if a movie was playing across them. You spoke one word. Home” He took a breath and continued “Don’t you remember me, Evelyn? I’m home.”

“It’s Eva”

“It’s Evelyn” he screamed and then quietly whispered “Our daughter. Where is she? Tell me where she is”

What?

“You’re crazy” I managed to breathe out before darting for the restaurant entrance.

He blocked me “Where is she? Tell me where she is. Tell me where she is, Evelyn”

“It’s Eva” I asserted and ran towards the door.  I didn’t want to hear him anymore. The man had lost his marbles and aptly chosen me as his victim to lash out on, but it was more than just that, his words dug out the bottom of my stomach, replacing the pit with an ever swelling anxiety. I ran inside of the restaurant and yelled for help. I puffed , my voice battling hard breathing, that a man was chasing me. Everyone stood still taking me in. One kid recorded me on his phone and I snarled at him but a hand pulled me back. It was Jackson. Tears were streaming down his face.

“Remember me, please. How could you forget?”

“Leave me alone!  I don’t know what you’re talking about” I yelled as I pulled away from him.

That's when he reached in his coat pocket and quickly pulled out his hand. A gun went off and Jackson dropped to the floor, blood spurting from his abdomen. I swiveled my head behind me and saw a police officer pointing his handgun, smoke wafting from its barrel. Then I looked back to Jackson, his right arm was outstretched and in his hand, between his thumb and fingers, he held tightly onto a photograph; Old and worn and obviously very precious to the man. As he lay dying, I bent down and plucked the photograph from his weak fingers examining it. Jackson sat to the right of the picture wearing his normal blue jeans and a black collared shirt. Something told me he was forced to wear the top. His ash blonde hair slung over his eyes and ears and he was trying to smile despite his hate of cameras. To the left sat Evelyn, a mix between Chinese and Native American with a spark of mischief in her feral eyes. She wore a pastel green dress. Evelyn, that’s my name. And in the middle of the photo a girl, dressed in a blue dress with the pink bow that she loved tied around her waist, held onto her parents hands tightly. Her light blonde hair was tied back revealing her sea blue eyes that were upturned like mine. Eliza. Our daughter.

My walls started to crack, leaking in image after image of a past I had forgotten, curing my denial and piecing together the fuzzy puzzle that was my psychotic break. It was now five years ago, I was eighteen years old and Jackson bumped into me on a rainy day. His green eyes gazed at me through the downpour. A couple of weeks later he was inside of me for the first time and a few months later we were dating and head over heels in love. A nurse’s pleasant voice told me I was pregnant and I bawled because no matter what I wanted to do, I could not get rid of Jackson’s child. We had a baby girl together as a family. I was a good mother much to my surprise and he was a superb father; we were happy but there were days we fought World War 3 and like the soldiers plagued by war we returned to our home feeling like neither of us had won. One battle caused me to flee with Eliza to my friend’s house a couple of hours away, and lost in my melancholy, my attention averted from Eliza for one moment and the next she was gone. And though my troubled mind was healing, my heart broke all over again as I remembered pulling Eliza from the pool and whispering ‘Live, live’ as my hands pressed her chest rhythmically, acting as her heart beat, her source of life. Our heart beats had been one and now that hers was gone, so was mine. I crawled into myself so deeply that I lost myself in another world. As the ones who cared for me realized I was losing bits of myself, bits of my memory, they conspired to hide me from Jackson and as a result our daughter's death from him. It was a cruelty I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Her toys, her smell, her photos sent me into catatonic states so eventually they took them.  Eventually I forgot the warmth of family, the love between partners, the laughter of my child and focused on who I was before I had all of that. Before I was a mother, a lover, a family, I thought I was a conqueror, a warrior ready to take on the world. It turns out I was just a girl.

Jackson drew a ragged breath snapping me out of my vision and I gasped, crawling to him to cradle his face. “Jackson, Jackson. I’m so sorry. I didn’t remember. I’m so sorry.” I stroked his tear streaked face, salty tears now running down my face. He lifted a bloody hand to my cheek caressing it.

“Where’s Eliza?” he choked out.

The tears poured now. I kissed his cheek gasping for breath between cries “You’ll be with her soon.”

“She’s gone?” he croaked, his voice breaking and his eyes searching mine desperately.

“I tried to save her. I tried.” And I sobbed heavy, deep bone-aching sobs.

He wiped my eyes and between shallow breaths whispered “We’ll be together again” He looked me hard in the eyes and a transparent form of communication passed between us. I nodded. And as his last act in this world, quickly, as quickly as a viper’s strike, he grabbed the knife in his pocket and stuck it true into my heart. As I lay on the ground, my breaths growing shallow and ragged, Eliza appeared next to me smiling. Jackson and I watched her as we died.


© Copyright 2018 Dots. All rights reserved.

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