Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The pretense of breathing underwater

by Savannah Stuitje

I was eleven years old, the summer you begin to notice how skinny you are in all the wrong places, when you’re caught in the juniors section of Target and pretend to be lost. We went there everyday, too hot to do anything but laze on rafts. The clumpy pond sand that followed me home every night, the sharp stones I thought were snapping turtles, swirling silt in the water turning my legs a golden tan. That summer still tastes of flat soda and sandy food in my mouth. That summer when I realized I wasn’t the only one alive anymore. They dragged him out of the water; lay him on the ground, two pale hands pushing him roughly. A challenge to sit up, fight for his own breath. The water streamed out of his nose and mouth. I remember I kept waiting for him to sit up and push them off him. The ambulance men, surrounding him like ants on sugar, adults gathering to discuss it in words children didn’t want to understand. I remember hearing later that he was pronounced dead on arrival. I wondered what it was like, to feel your muscles seize up and your body sink to the sandy bottom taking you with it. I wondered if he was still there.

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