The mirror folds in on itself. Images separate. At seven years of age I was drowning!
It was simple as that. Water, water everywhere and not a drop I should drink.
Cut the crap, I thought. It’s not funny. It was strange, my mind still working, conjuring images, associations, and the pressures coming to bear.
My younger sister Patricia and I had come much earlier to The Pit at the meeting edge of Saugus and Revere on Massachusetts’s North Shore, Boston but a few miles off and but a few needles on the horizontal skyline. Mass was over, Sunday school done in a jiffy, and the water of The Pit or any of the other salty places of the Rumney Marshland calling us in the heat of an early September day.
Summer, as yet, had its grasp in place. We had been summoned the odd way sweat crawled about us in church, making demands of its own, droplets at bare announcement. And our father on a solitary day away from work, starchy yet newly elegant in the only suit we had ever seen him in, presumably a gift, was off to an hour’s union meeting. The suit seemed new though the shoes were the same old handoffs he’d been wearing for much more than a year. Straight down the tracks of the Saugus-Linden Branch he had marched, the easiest route to the union hall, the collar tight on his neck, the pants with an iron crease a long day would take care of, the suit and the shoes strangers in the one. His route had required no cab fare, no bus fare, no minor or harsh demands on his wallet mostly holding pictures by the inseparable dozen.
At a distance, unseen, we had followed him part way on his route and then we left the railroad tracks for The Pit, the posse leaving the trail. Short cuts in life always pose the best adventures, or something like that I had once read, my father demanding two hours a day be spent over a book good, bad or indifferent, but always of my own choice…my choice made it the special bent. Once I had hoped such reading would shape my life.
But not now. Not this instant. Not with water everywhere.
The indisputable fact I was drowning, like a weighted rock with its own hardness, flopped down through me, though I did not know how deep I was. Nor did I know what was still dragging me down; the oversized, quickly-borrowed swimming trunks yielded by a friend, or a found bracelet on my right hand wrist a friend of my father had sent me from a sandy Pacific rim, an officious but threatened grasp from a mysterious origin. It was Japanese most likely, and with an inherent curse plotting its course, as I was to find out before too long.
Tom Sheehan,has published 28 books, has multiple works in Rosebud, Linnet’s Wings, Serving House Journal, Literally Stories, Copperfield Review, Literary Orphans, River Poets Journal, Indiana Voices Journal, Frontier Tales, Western Online Magazine, Faith-Hope and Fiction, Eastlit, Rope & Wire Magazine, In Other Words-Merida, The Literary Yard, Green Silk Journal, Fiction on the Web, The Path, The Cenacle,etc. He has 32 Pushcart nominations, 5 Best of the Net nominations (one winner), a Georges Simenon Fiction Award. Newer books include Swan River Daisy (KY Stories), The Cowboys (Pocol Press), and Jehrico (Danse Macabre). Back Home in Saugus, To Athens from Third Base, Elements & Accessories, Small Victories for the Soul, The Keating Script, and Valor's Commission (war and post- war tales reflecting impact of PTSD) are books being considered. He was 2016 Writer-in-Residence at Danse Macabre in Las Vegas. And an intriguing piece coming in the 31st Infantry Newsletter about comrades' signatures on a 1000 Korean Won Note still in his wallet after 66 years, with two signatories still alive, one spoken to just yesterday (1/19/17) in North Riverside, Illinois.