I’ve let go. I’ve given up… on the struggling.
Still, I hold my breath, as best I can. Have to let some out; in spurts, like crying… sobbing really; that kind you can’t control, can’t stop.
Prrrt, prrt, prrrt.
Still, I’m reaching, reaching… up.
Blackness. I try to open my eyes. The water is filled with sand, pulled up from the bottom, I guess, by the storm.
And my eyes burn. The blood had reached them before he gunned the… what? Motor? Engine? And he turned so fast, so sharp, sharply.
My hands were on my forehead, my eyes on him. Wicked smile.
“So; it’s swim,” he said, puckering his lips; like a kiss. Wicked kiss.
But then he realized… he dropped the… I don’t know what it was, something from his boat. He reached for the pearls. His mother’s, he’d said. Too late.
I could only barely see his hand, reaching.
Maybe my smile was as wicked. And I just fell backward, like, like…
Like sleep. Sinking, deeper; don’t know how deep.
And now my second best dress wraps around me, like seaweed. Tangled. The pearls, the necklace, twisted in my hair. And, and it’s like… like I can’t kick hard enough.
I close my eyes.
Mistakes. Who to trust, who to…
Let it go.
Other eyes; sad smile, sad recognition. I saw him, they designed the restaurant that way; in the kitchen. Cooking. And me; what was I doing?
And he looked down, holding onto some bit of pride.
And I looked down, no pride left.
This was just for a second. I put the smile back on, for my host. Maybe that was the moment he realized I was… was I? Acting.
Was this the easy way?
Is this the easy way? Do I let go; surrender?
The panic is gone. There’s peace. No. Not yet. There’s…wait. I’ve been… rising… released.
Breath! No! Half foam. Choke, cough… breathe.
There’s a moment here, moments; and then the water that had pushed me up pushes me onward. Oh, I can swim; I know how; but I’m swirling, still swirling… but, but, but I see lights. Sky. Morning. It’s…
Another wave. Another. Breath, hold it, move with the waves.
Moments, moments, still moving. Closer to the shore.
Stand up. Stand. And…knocked down, but forward. I rise. I rise, again. And…
The original story, “Ragged Edge,” was published on this site in August of 2013, with another wonderful illustration by my sister, Melissa Lynch. She drew the original illustration here, entitled “Winter At Sea,” for, well, me, and for the gallery she belongs to in Illinois. Because it also fits so well, I felt I should go back, address “Ragged Edge” from a different angle. Ironically, I had always wanted to expand “Ragged Edge” just far enough more to include telltale blood trickling down the forehead of the woman rescued from the stormy surf, now safe, if only temporarily, in the truck of the man who found her on the beach. The victim would share another look of recognition, this time with her attacker.
Maybe she’d touch his mother’s pearls. And then? Released.
Maybe it’s not ironic. Maybe it’s how it was illustrated in my mind. Thanks, Melissa, for making something only imagined real.