The Moment Before Drowning – Donna L Greenwood

Though her daggered words are aimed with perfect precision, they do not penetrate the black waves that are slowly engulfing me.

“I’m sorry, Jake, but you’ve only got yourself to blame.”

I nod my head slowly, for the water is heavy. Yes, I do only have myself to blame.

“I mean, for God’s sake, you’d try the patience of a saint, you really would.”

It’s the truth. I would try the patience of a saint.

“Jake, you exhaust me. I’ve had it with constantly trying to appease you. I am so tired of your moods and never knowing what dark shit you’re going to come out with next. You wallow in it, Jake. You just give in and luxuriate in your own misery.”

She’s right. I do wallow in it. Some days the mud of my mood is a viscous embrace.

“Jake.” Her voice has softened and she is by my side. I’m sat by the window. Outside the rain is drenching the streets whilst inside I am quietly submerging. She puts her hand on mine.

“I never wanted it to come to this, but I can’t stay here and watch you self-destruct.”

I look into her grey, seawater eyes. Doesn’t she know that I would peel off every inch of my skin for her? I want to tell her that I will die without her, but I am afraid the water will rush into my mouth.

“For God’s sake, Jake, haven’t you got anything to say to me?”

I want to tell her about the moment before drowning. I want explain how the drowning person doesn’t inhale water until they’re about to lose consciousness and then, when they finally breathe in the water, it floods the lungs and stops any oxygen getting to the blood. The drowning person becomes exhausted, depleted. I want to tell her that the very act of drowning makes it impossible not to drown. I try to speak but she has already turned away. She picks up her packed case and walks out of the door. I listen to the murky clatter of her stilettos gradually fading away.

Silence wraps itself around me and gently pulls me down to a place where I am comforted by the weight of the dark water which has filled this room where I used to hold her. I set my mouth in a hard, thin line and hold my breath, but I know it won’t be long before the involuntary drowning impulse kicks in and I will open my mouth and inhale the room, and the furniture and the shoes that she has forgotten. I will breathe in all that is too much and too big and eventually my airways will close and my lungs will die and I will drop like a stone into the fathomless black.


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DONNA L GREENWOOD lives in Lancashire, England. She writes flash fiction and poetry and her work can be found in Formercactus, Anti-Heroin Chic, Occulum, Hypnopomp, The Fiction Pool and on her blog
She can be contacted on Twitter @DonnaLouise67


Image: geralt via Pixabay

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