I couldn’t breathe. Bitter cold water filled my lungs. My throat stung as the water scraped against it. I screamed- such a foolish thing to do when you are drowning…your own screams become muffled, so you never know whether you are screaming or whether your mouth is just open. And what good does screaming do, after all, no one can hear you…It is all in your head. The sharp stinginess of blood filled the back of my throat and my nose as I inhaled sharp bits of ice.
I tried to swim and fight against the water, but the harder I tried, the deeper I drowned.
‘You are not worth it’
‘Why are you even here?’
‘You will never make it, no matter how hard you try ‘
‘You are not meant to achieve your dreams’
‘Not everyone is born to succeed’
‘You cannot change…that is simply who you are’
‘You will never be forgiven’
Those words echoed in the murky water surrounding me.
I swam harder.
I broke the freezing surface of the water.
I gasped for air.
Everything stung. I had been scared all over by the sharp icing bits of words. I felt soar and my head felt fuzzy.
I reached for the edge of the frozen lake. It grazed my skin and it broke. I was pulled down again. I was drowning but faster this time. The water was colder now and somehow sharper…any air I grasped was knocked out of my lungs the moment I was pulled down.
‘I am ashamed of myself’
‘I am a failure
‘I don’t deserve to succeed’
‘I hate myself
‘Why am I me? Why cannot I be someone else?’
‘I am not worthy of living
‘I am not worthy of my life.’
I should be swimming up…I should be fighting. But instead, I found my hands covering my ears. My grip was so tight that I felt I almost scrapped my ears off in attempt to block that voice. But how could I? It is inside me…It Is Me Saying That…and how could one escape from oneself.
I felt distant and yet present all at once. My mind seemed distant…somewhere so far away, yet my body’s soreness and ache felt real. My stomach twisted all over and my throat was shutting close.
The pain was overwhelming and I couldn’t take it anymore.
My arms stopped fighting and my body went limp.
I let all those thoughts and sharp words sink in. I listened to them all. I didn’t fight them or judge them. I just let them sink in. I even catered them. And told them that it is ok. It is ok for them to show up every now and then…it is ok to not be ok at times.
My limp body felt more at ease. I straightened my back and allowed my shoulders to relax. I didn’t move my arms…I didn’t fight the water. Instead, I let my arms loosely float beside me. Instead of sinking, I found myself floating. I broke the surface of the water which wasn’t as cold as I remembered. I inhaled a sharp breath-and for once I felt alive again. I just allowed my body to float…as I fought less and allowed myself, my thoughts, and my feelings to all be what they want to be for now…I felt my scars healing and the soreness easing down.
I didn’t notice it at first, but then I realized that the lake’s frozen surface was no longer there as it melted while the water got warmer. I saw the edge of nearby land. I swam towards it. It was the edge of a pine forest-all filled with green pine trees and flowers of all colors and sorts.
I dragged my legs against the steep slope out of the lake’s edge…as water dripped out of my wet clothes. As I took my last step out of the lake and onto the land…one last thought echoed through me…
‘You are worthy of living’ It said.
I enjoyed the feeling of lush green grass against my feet.
I looked back one last time. Somehow the lake had shrunk to a pond-Or was it a pond all along?
I smiled and moved on.
‘Stephie darling, are you alright-is there anything wrong with the food? You seemed to have not been there for a moment or two?’
My eyes snapped towards mum. We were at the dining table-it was 8 o’clock-dinner time. A plate of mashed potatoes and grilled steak covered in gravy sauce was sitting right in front of me…it was barely touched and it looked cold.
‘Stephie are you sure you are ok? I had been calling your name for a while now, but it seemed you had been somewhere else. What were you thinking about? Is everything ok?’
Her eyebrows were slightly furrowed and I could sense the worry in her voice.
I stared at her warm hazelnut eyes. Then I smiled.
I am worthy of living. And I will make sure that I become the daughter you deserve mum.
‘Nothing is wrong mum. I am ok. Stop Worrying.’
I smiled as warm as I could and cupped her hands in mine. They felt as warm as the pond water was when I was swimming out of it.
‘Besides the food tastes awesome.’ I gobbled down a large bite and smiled again.
That satisfied her as she smiled back.
Logy Ahmed is a second-year medical student. She is also a passionate young Egyptian writer living in sunny Alexandria. She finds her true joy in small things…things as small as the roasted scent of coffee and the scent of book ink. She loves rainy days when she could just snuggle with a book and a cup of hot mint tea as the rain clatters against the window.