Friday, 8 January 2016

Submerged

The water is freezing. Not just cold, really really freezing. It makes me want to gasp and draw in air and I have to fight through the fuzz of my mind to remind myself that if I open my mouth it will be water that I breathe in and not air. My eyes are screwed shut and everything is pitch black. I can hear the water swirling and bubbling around me, it's making that weird underwater swooshing sound, like when you stick your head underwater at the swimming pool and everything sounds funny. Only this time it's worse, it's a hundred times worse, louder and more chaotic, and I'm filled with the knowing that I am not in a safe swimming pool with a life guard watching over me but alone in a swirling river. 
I don't know which way is up or which way is down. It feels like I'm tumbling over and over, in my head I'm screaming and I want to cry. I'm panicking, and I know I should be trying to swim, trying to find the surface, but in the chaos of the relentless water I can't seem to make my arms and legs move. My chest is hurting, I need to breathe. Pain shoots up my leg as it hits a rock on the riverbed and I reflexively open my mouth to scream. Cold water rushes in, shooting up my nose, filling my mouth and flooding down my throat, I try to cough but can't. Cold panic squeezes my chest and makes my head spin. This is it.
Suddenly strong hands grasp me, fingers locking in beneath my arms and pulling me. Upwards, further and further until I feel the water break over my head and suddenly I'm coughing and spluttering and gasping for air. The sunlight is bright and I squeeze my eyes shut tighter, my body rocking and convulsing as it tries desperately to expel the water. I can feel myself being pulled up over the side of the riverbank, cold wet mud squelching beneath my weight. More than anything I want my soft warm bed, far away from the cold suffocating water, the slimy mud and the people around me. I don't know who they are and I don't want to open my eyes. I can hear them around me, some of them are talking, some of them are whispering, someone is shouting but I don't know who it is and I can't make out what they are saying. 
My body has stopped convulsing and finally I can draw in the sweet cold air, great heaving lungfuls of it. I draw my legs up into my chest and curl up as tightly as I can, shivering and breathing, alive. Someone bends down beside me, they have their hands on me, I think they are trying to move me into the recovery position but I don't want to be moved. I want this whole nightmare to be over. There's a noise near my ear and I realise that someone is trying to talk to me, they're asking me if I'm alright. 
I roll over and open my eyes, everything is fuzzy and my chest hurts when I breathe. Above me I can make out the outline of a person, like a black blot against the too bright sky. As he slowly comes into focus I realise he's a man, a young man. I try to talk but my throat hurts and my voice comes out as a gravelly croak. The man bends down, I can hear concern in his voice, he's telling me there's an ambulance on the way. I nod my head slightly and manage to croak out a faint thanks. He strokes my hair and tells me it's going to be OK. I let my eyes close again and the world slips away into darkness as my tired body finally loses consciousness.

2 comments:

  1. Powerful, I could feel what was happening.

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  2. Thankyou! I had great fun writing this one, I got really into it. I didn't know what to write when I sat down and then this just came out!

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