The voice calls softly, from far away.
I am suspended here, deep in the cold.
I am content; the world around me hazy and glistening.
‘Breathe’ it calls again.
I open my mouth. I let it fill my nostrils, but I can’t draw it in.
My tongue tastes bitter and chemical.
‘Breatheeee’ it chimes, so sweet and inviting.
My body is weightless as I watch the distorted shapes shimmer and glide around me as I float there, still as stone.
My eyes burn as if years of unshed tears are housed behind them.
The voice is warm and soft and encouraging.
‘Breathe. Just once. Just one breath and you’ll be free’
I want to breathe, I want to fill my lungs and claim my freedom, but I hesitate. Is this really what I want?
‘BREATHE!’ it screams.
‘It’s harder than you think!’ I cry out in my mind;
startled to find both voices are my own.
‘BREATHE! BREATHE! BREATHE!’ an urgency has replaced the chiding with a shrieking chant.
I give in. Just one little breath.
I draw it in, trying to fill my lungs.
It pours down my throat and stings my sinuses; my body revolts.
I’m struggling now, thrashing towards the surface.
My lungs aflame, fighting against this new invader.
I try to stay below, in the still, in the quiet.
In my mind I beg my body not to go, not to betray me.
It’s too late.
I crash through the surface into the sunlight and the noise and convulse by the poolside while my body expels my attempt to end it’s purpose.
My brothers laugh, amused that I ‘choked’.
My aunt scolds them.
She tells him it isn’t funny and that it only takes a teaspoon for someone to drown.
I wish she were right.
I cough up teaspoon after teaspoon but I do not drown.
My hope does.
I was 13 when I attempted to drown myself. It seemed like a peaceful way to leave this plane. No mess, and it would look like an accident. I wanted to die though I didn’t fully understand death. I’d heard that when someone died their pain went away; and I was in so much pain. If I had known it would only get worse- for years to come- before I was finally free of it, would I have tried harder or held on tighter?