Flash Fiction: The Riptide

“I think about you often, you know?” I mutter only to receive silence in return.

I take a deep breath before continuing.

“As hard as I try, I can’t seem to forget about the days when we used to race to the row of swing sets. You know, the row in the very back of the playground furthest away from Miss Pettews classroom door? We’d run, and run, and run and at last, we’d finally make it there. Everyday, we would swear out loud that half our recess was over by the time we reached those swings,” I chuckle.

Sitting on the damp ground, I breathe in the crisp autumn air and let it fill my lungs until I can’t imagine any more air fitting. Exhale. I close my eyes, breathe in deeply yet again, and slowly lower my head to rest on the top of my knee caps.

I sit like that until my eyes begin to brim with tears.

In one slow movement, I lower my back onto the ground behind me and I dig my bare toes into the cold, wet, grass. I feel the dampness envelop my backside, seep into my hair, and I breathe in deeply.

I try again, “Do you remember the time when Elaine’s mom found the three of us in her garage? You know, the time she stole a pack of her moms cigarettes and we tried smoking for the first time. We only got halfway through the first one we lit and passed around before the coughing fits gave us up, remember? Her mom was furious,” I dig my toes in a bit deeper, forcing myself to feel grounded.

I continue, “Elaine’s mom was trying to do everything all at once. She grabbed Elaine’s hand and tried to drag her into the house, while she screamed, ‘GET OUT!’ at us all while fumbling to take back the nearly full pack of cigarettes from your hand. I really thought that would’ve been the last time we saw Elaine!”

I breathe in deeply.

“Do you remember that?” I plead but it’s no use. Silence is the only response I hear.

Birds are chirping in the far off distance. The brisk air that I’m breathing in is rustling through the tree to the left of my cool, limp body.

“C’mon, you’ve got to answer me one of these times. I’m not going to accept silence,” My lip begins to quiver, “You’ve got to…”

I lay there and stare up at the clouds as they’re moving across the sunsetting sky.

“I hope you remember those times,” I say slowly, softly into the quiet.

Without being able to stop it, the tears began again. One by one, they rolled down the sides of my unmake-upped face and maneuvered around my earlobes before disappearing into my disheveled hair.

“From the moment Bobby broke up with you in seventh grade until the time your mom passed away in that hospital bed, I told you that you’re a fighter. Do you remember that? I told you that you are a fighter,” tears kept rolling and my words became more strained.

In a whisper, I reminded her yet again, “You are… you were a fighter. The riptide may have won that day but you were a fighter, you know that? I know you didn’t give in and let it take you. I know you wouldn’t do that. You wouldn’t just,” my voice cracked. “You wouldn’t just leave us. I know that, you know? I know that…”

I breathed in deeply.