Quiet, Uneventful Affairs
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When I was a child I drowned at sea.

It was a quiet, uneventful affair. I had simply wandered out too far, paid too little attention, and before long I found myself on my back, a weight of white and grey and brown above me.

It was quiet. I did not struggle. I do not remember being knocked over. I was simply there, suspended, in my own personal abyss.

I did not open my mouth to scream, or to breathe, I opened my mouth in awe at what was above me. The weight of white, brown, and grey. It wasn't comforting, like a blanket, but it was familiar - a sensation felt before. A familiar weight that had settled on my chest and felt at home there.

My lungs were burning. That's a funny term, isn't it? To have your lungs burn while under the depths? This pain seems to almost contradict itself in a way. Burning while submerged. But like any fire without oxygen, it was snuffed out quickly, and I forgot about it.

But as soon as I remembered my need to breathe, it was over. The wave had sent me back to shore. I was on my hands and knees coughing up sand while seafoam swirled at my feet. The weight was gone, absent, and it was quiet.

Quiet still was the beach. Quiet still were the waves. Quiet still were the people. No lifeguard, no parent, no caring stranger. The beach was empty. I stood at the shore. And then I was gone.

We never went to that beach again, but the desire to feel that familiar weight again stuck with me over the years to come.

When I was a child I lived in a house made of ghosts.

The house had been built because I was being born. My family had been wealthy at the time and spent their fairs on extravagant features. The most noteworthy of which was wood reclaimed from sunken vessels that had once sailed The Great Lakes. How the ships had sunk had never been explained to me, but they now lined the floors of the dining room and staircase and upstairs indoor balconies.

I've heard of legends that say water carries memories, that water is the key to rebirth, or the key to the afterlife. These legends have never been more than whispers to me, but looking back now I question if maybe their validity would have helped me.

There was a figure who lived across the hall from me. A husk of a person with distorted features and a twisted smile. I like to think he came from the wood, the collected energy of the souls lost to waves, manifesting because they had been torn from their home to build another.

He became a familiar presence over the years. Always in the house. Always by my side. Always contradicting himself. Never too friendly, never too mean, just a manifestation of what he was and meant to be - souls far from home and torn with the guilt of unsaid goodbyes.

I've come to wonder if the weight that had settled on my chest the day I drowned had been him, kneeling above me with his hands deep inside me, clutching onto my lungs and igniting them aflame. Had it been a reminder I deserved to be alive? Or a calling to join those without goodbyes?

I moved out of the house some years ago. Last I heard it had been foreclosed by the bank. I wonder if it too will contradict itself, the house of submerged wood burning itself down, in a quiet, uneventful affair.

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