Not dead, not alive, in some strange place in-between. I can hear my family; Mom is shouting for vinegar, Dad says something, Daniel answers. But I don’t hear Michelle’s voice.
They’re all so far away compared to the gentle flapping of the sails. And all I see in front of me is the same footage playing through my mind on some kind of eternal loop: First the panoramic view of an endless empty ocean, then the water itself, too many fathoms to fathom and a rich purple-blue hue that would be the pride of any painter’s palette… some inner part of me laughs at this alliteration, and a fist closes over my heart – the image stalls, perhaps this is it.
But the fist releases me, giving way to the pressure suddenly pounding against my chest, I breathe again, only now realizing I had stopped.
And the tape plays on: The becalmed ocean gives way to cascades of droplets and thousands of ripples making their way to the four corners of the earth. Daniel emerges triumphant, conqueror of the Atlantic, Dad is not far behind, Mom cautions, Michelle tentatively sticks first one foot, then the other into God’s palette of perfect colour. I have a cold; Mom says I shouldn’t go in, she won’t go in. but the sun is hot, and there are diamonds on the water, the sails are flapping, but the boat is still.
Dad is smiling, Daniel is laughing, and Michelle breathes in sharply as she dips a little deeper into the water, holding tightly onto the ladder. I tease her for being afraid of the deep, she says it is just the icy water. Mom is still worried…
Mom is worried, but I can’t hold back any longer, “Here I come!” I shout, and dive bomb from the platform. The water closes over my head; it feels like a winter wind blowing through me, I sink deeper, and deeper. It wraps around me softly, before I push myself to the surface again. “That’s how you do it Michelle!” I call exultantly. Water droplets hang from her hair, as she still holds fast to the ladder. Her face – a perplexity of moods – suddenly settles into a look of horror.
The image freezes.
There’s a sharp, acidic smell of vinegar; it burns me through and through and brings me violently back to this world. And sharper than the smell are the voices and they are the voices I love, not an endless meaningless loop, but something real and tangible, and they are calling me back.