I was weightless.
Floating in an endless sea of blue with no care in the world. Adrenaline coursed throughout my body, making me feel as if nothing could hurt me. But I was wrong as I began to choke, my lungs tightened, threatening to collapse and gasp for the air I knew wouldn’t fill my lungs. And then, without thinking, I breathed in the saltwater, unable to hold my breath any longer. The water consumed me, filling my lungs with the substance that the organ wasn’t made for.
My auburn locks floated around me as the fear took hold: I was going to die in the water that I loved so much. And even if I didn’t, I would never look at the blue waves the same again. Just as my vision began to grow dark, I felt the familiar arms of my twin grab ahold of me just as my heart stopped beating.
Gasping, I awoke from my dream clutching my chest as my heart thundered, pounding against my head as my ears began to ring. My hair stuck to my forehead and my clothes were damp. Sitting up in bed to slow my racing heartbeat, I tried not to think about my dream — about the memory. Why can’t I dream about something else? Why does it have to be that?
Sighing, I peal the covers off of my damp skin and pad over to the bathroom to shower and get ready for the day. My purple suitcase sitting neatly near my bedroom door, reminding me of the trip I will be going on. It will be the first time in six years that I will be coming back to my hometown.
It’s not like I don’t like my hometown of Tybee Island, Georgia, I do, the people are nice and the weather is amazing but, the ocean. I can’t stand it. I wasn’t always like this, I used to love the infamous waves just as much as my parents did but, that one incident changed everything.
I shut my eyes, refusing to remember the accident that fueled my fear, and turned the faucet on for my shower. Pealing my sweat-soked pajamas off of me, I stepped into the tub, letting the warm water pour over me and calm my nerves. As I poured my shampoo into my palm, I began to forget about the memory and I hoped that my one week trip will be less eventful. After my shower, I got dressed in a simple yellow sundress and sandals. Grabbing my purse and my suitcase, I turned off all of the lights and walked out of my home to greet the humidity of Carthage, North Carolina and locked the front door behind me.
It was nearly three hours before I made it into the historic town of Savannah, Georgia. My windows closed shut and my radio blarring through the speakers to keep my sanity. I knew that I would see the expanse of the sea in less than fifteen minutes and as if on cue, I felt the anxiety rise up in me. “No, Lottie, you will not do this!” I scolded myself, “You are here for your brother and your family, and you will not chicken out!”
Gritting my teeth, I tried not to look towards the water as I passed the “Welcome to Tybee Island” sign and continue on the highway into town. Three minutes later, I was following the familiar street towards my childhood home. Mom’s porch swing still hung, swaying slightly in the sea breeze. And I smiled, remembering when she would read to us while Greyson and I sat and leaned into her warm embrace. Shutting my car off, I exited my vehicle and grabbed my suitcase from the trunk. Hearing the front door open, I heard the familiar shriek of my Aunt Nova as she tackled me in a hug.
“Oh, you’ve gotten so big! Why didn’t you call and tell me you were coming!?” She said, her blue eyes twinkling.
“Hi Aunt Nova.” I smiled, glad to see her. “And I didn’t call because I knew that mom would tell you I was coming.”
“That’s true.” She grinned, wrapping her arms around me for one last hug before leading me into the old home.
“I’m so glad your here, Ian’s making hamburgers out back with your dad.” Ian was my uncle, Aunt Nova’s second husband. They met a few years after my cousin, Emmy, was born. Ian loved Emmy as if he were her father, and he practically was.
“Hamburgers sound good!” I exclaimed, opening the front door to let my aunt in.
Once inside, Nova left me to set my suitcase in my old room, which was now a guest bedroom. The walls were once a light purple, but now were replaced with a light gray color. So much time spent away it just made the life I grew up in so much more alien.
“Lottie is that you?” I heard my mom ask from the doorway, turning around to look my mother in the eye I smiled.
Her red hair was streaked in gray, contrasting with my auburn locks that I’m told my Grandmother Andrews possessed while my brother took after the Walsh side of the family. Uniquely enough, Greyson and I both had our mother’s eyes. I missed my family and I wanted to change, for them. I’m tired of cowering in fear over the ocean, and I’m tired of missing out on family events because of that fear. But will they understand, if I really told them what happened the night of the boating accident? I hope they will.
“Hi Mom,” I sighed, shutting my eyes as I made the decision, “We need to talk.”