Gina Tells Me How She Drowned
John A. Ward

I walk down the steps into the canal and stand ankle deep.  It is a hot day and the water is cool.  I go down another two to the knee, then two more to the hips.  The water lifts me and my next step is a water step.  I float away.  I cannot swim, so I go down.  The light is broken into shimmers by the surface.  I try to climb to the air, but there is no hand-hold, just the slip-slide of water through my fingers.  I struggle toward the light, but it gets darker.

Hopeless, I surrender.  Peace washes over me and all is black.  The water enters my lungs.  I remember nothing else until I cough on the grass.  I am wearing a red summer dress.  A dog is barking.  A young man is breathing into my mouth.  He is handsome.  I ask, "Are you an angel?"  He says, "No, but you almost were."

I will never go into water again.  Do not even splash me. 

In the dark, I cannot breathe.  My father is a photographer and uses the bedroom to develop film.  If I wake when he is working the room is completely dark.  I choke.  He hugs me and I close my eyes. I suffocate.

He tells me the spirit leaves a drowning body.  It floats above the water, uncomfortable because it cannot see the body.  Why does it do that?  The spirit doesn't have to breathe.  Why doesn't it stay with my body?

First published: August, 2010
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