Suddenly she’s dumb, glassy eyed and slack jawed. Reminds me of that vacant look she gets whenever she’s had enough to drink. She’s fixed on the flowerbed, but I know it’s you she’s watching, and not my Bleeding Hearts. She sees you out past the buoys, thrashing and splashing, crying for help between fatal gulps of Lake Huron. It isn’t a real memory, just a fabrication; it’s a violent scene sprung from a mother’s grief. I used to hear her screaming in the middle of the night. After Dad left, I would have to shout at her and shake her awake, and then we would both be up until dawn. She would cry and tell me about this nightmare, her memory of seeing you drown. She wasn’t even on the beach that afternoon. I was. And I have relived that moment thousands of times over—that moment when you’ll die thousands of times more.
The sun was full that day, a disc fierce yellow against a perfect blue sky. The beach was crowded at the swash, the dry sand too hot to be tolerated, and the lake was absolutely heaving. There were so many bodies, too many bodies, and no-body noticed you were sinking. Nobody, but me.
You’re dead, Renny. And it’s my fault.
© Kindra M. Austin