Saturday, May 21, 2011: approximately 1:00 a.m.
The sky is clear as a late evening becomes an early morning. The moonlight reflects off the calm lake water, bathing the shoreline in a soft glow. As the hours tick by those gathered slowly trickle away, and a fire once well fed burns low. A deck made of plastic and steel pushes out into the water. Similar fixtures jut out from many of the houses that push up against the lake, allowing residents to swim or dock boats. Two of my friends stand on the nearest dock and listen to the fish jump. As others joke about how cold the water must be, I am captured by a thought. I slip quietly away. The chairs once warmed by the neighbors have long since grown cold. I press out onto the dock that stretches out here. I smirk silently as I strip down. It is better that my clothes remain dry. A ladder on my left has no doubt seen many swimmers climb its steps back onto the dock. The water line is perhaps a foot or more below the dock, but I estimate that still leaves me four feet of depth or so. Easy enough. I started swim team at an age when all the kids are still dog paddling, and it wasn't until quite a few years later that I moved on to other sports.
As I had so many times before, I dove with hands outstretched. As I broke the surface of the water, my past life was stripped away. I felt a sharp shock to my neck, followed by no pain at all. In times of extreme stress our brains are capable of astonishing things. Under the water, in a place where I should have seen nothing at all, I saw myself. In my vision I floated face down below the surface, pale skin illuminated by the moonlight, my hair floating freely. My mind churned... gotta swim up... my arms will not move, my legs will not move... this is it... I am going to die...
Two of the girls came over to investigate the splash, and found me floating face down. They told me to stop messing around. I could only slip farther away, disappearing below the water. The guys commented on how large a fish it must have taken to make such a big splash. This lasted until they were called over. When they pulled me out I had been underwater for two or three minutes. The police were close by and arrived quickly, and an ambulance soon followed. Eight hours of surgery later, and many more spent unconscious, I woke up in the intensive care unit.