In the summers, you stay with your aunt, who lives in the middle of the woods somewhere near a lake. Most of the time, she would leave you alone, but this summer is different. She confronts you in the kitchen one morning, saying she heard you crying last night. You tell her you’re fine because if you tell her the truth you’ll cry again, and when your boyfriend left you he said you cry too much, so it feels so shameful to do it now, though you know it isn’t. Then again, some nights you cry hard enough you think your heart just might stop. So maybe he was right.
You start going out to the lake after that, sitting on the edge of the dock. It’s better than crying inside anyway. Inside, the walls reverberates the sadness back to you. It clings onto you. It becomes the wallpaper and the blankets you sleep in. The grief becomes the air. Somehow, you think if you are outside, it will all go elsewhere. It could stop being yours to bear alone.
You walk out to the lake one night, trying to learn how to let go of the past. You cry and the tears fall into the lake and the water ripples. This time, you will not sit. You want to swim.
You walk to the edge of the dock and sit for a second before pushing yourself into the water. The initial crash is thunder and then nothing. There is no sound except the blood rushing in your ear. You sink for a second and then come back up the top, breaking the surface. The moon above you lights up the whole lake.
You float on your back, the silver water holding you like he never could. The water doesn’t say it loves you only to say it never really meant it. The water doesn’t break you. It just keeps you afloat.
You’re surprised it can. You have felt so heavy with grief lately.
You read somewhere once that when you die, you go back to the earth. Your body rots and becomes nothing more than dirt.
Instead, you like to think the dead become water. They become the vapour in the air, which becomes the rain in the clouds, which become the oceans and the rivers and the lakes. Maybe right now you’re floating in a pool of other people’s stories, and that’s why the lake can hold you and your story up so well. Maybe they’re listening to you. Maybe they think you’re silly for being so sad over some boy, or maybe they sympathize.
You’re crying here, on your back on the lake surface, but he was wrong. You don’t cry too much. It’s just enough. The tears, filled with memories, run off your cheeks and become nothing more than lake water. He becomes nothing more than water. Meanwhile, you can hear your heart beating steady as you float. AQ