It comes back to you.
When Brian’s head was first forced into the cold water, he felt a sharp pain, his head ached and his lips went numb, some water went up his nose and he sensed a strong pungent smell of chlorine. His ears were clogged and his head was firmly held in position by his hair. His eyes started itching after a few seconds, and he could hear faint noises from above.
At first everyone were laughing and as seconds ticked by, the laughter gradually faded.
Sitting in the bathtub, Brian used to slide in until his whole body was under water, he took a deep breath and slide even more until his head was under water too, when he ran out of breath he got up and repeated the same.
He started doing this whenever his parents had a fight just to block out the constant bickering, it didn’t matter even if it was in the middle of the night on a school day, and sometimes he was in there for so long his fingers became all wrinkled up.
With time he became so good, that he was able to hold his breath for as long as 45 seconds, the trick was to not let out the breath at once, wait a few seconds and let some air out and hold it again, and let out some more and hold it some more, it was all about timing, but now, with the bullies sticking his head in the pool he pushed it to a minute, he started to have blurred visions, when Sam pulled out his head Brian took a sharp breath from his mouth that he felt like his whole body has just been filled with air. He also might have inhaled some chlorine and piss filled water.
“The fuck dude! You didn’t even put up a fight!” Sam said.
“Come on guys, let’s get away from this him.” Jessica said dragging Sam by his hand.
They never bothered him again.
It didn’t make much difference to Brian anyway. He shrugged it off and went on his way.
When Brian was a Junior in High school his father left them, just left them without any reason. His mother was inconsolable, Brian didn’t understand Wasn’t she supposed to be happy, he made her life miserable, and now he left, she should be happy now.
To be honest Brian didn’t understand much anyway, he didn’t understand why his mother put up with his father even if he pissed her off all the time, why she bared the insults for all those years, why she tried to make her father happy all the time when his father was the most selfish person he’d ever known.
His mother gradually slipped into depression as days passed, so he tried everything to make her happy. He tried calling his father but it was the voice mail he reached every time. Eventually he stopped calling, and focused on his mother.
Every morning before he got out of the shower he practiced smiling in the mirror. So he won’t depress his mother even more than she already is. He did this for weeks, sometimes he did it for himself, just so that he could assure himself that he is happy or that he’d be eventually, but he never stopped, as painfully absurd as it may seem. Sometimes he’d break into a laugh because he felt stupid, smiling at himself in the mirror.
Brian sat in the coffee shop writing the reasons to be accepted into college. Suddenly someone bumped into his chair, he looked back and saw a girl saying sorry, and for the first time in years, his smile wasn’t fake or practiced. And for the first time in years someone smiled back.
It seemed to Brian everything he’s ever done in his life, came back to him. No in the way he had expected, but it did come back nonetheless.
Sinking into the bathtub when he was 10 was, to be frank dangerous, he could have drowned, but it got him out of bullying. Smiling at the mirror all those years he felt stupid, but he’d finally found the beauty and simple pleasure of a genuine smile.
And after thinking hard about a grand ending for his college acceptance letter he wrote:
“Finally I can say that I can find my way through, no matter what.”