By Christian Sopkowiak.
It was too late. The river had begun to fill my lungs and I swear I saw the darkness they talk about when you are dying. The unfathomable weight of my drenched clothes began to contribute to my drowning. The lack of oxygen in this prison was becoming unbearable. What sucked most of all, I could not even see the sun.
My entire body was submerged under the tortuous blue of the water. The rapids were destructive that day and of course, I decided to try the canoe today. It was stupid, in hindsight. But, I was drowning, dying, losing, and trying to…
My scalp felt the rays of the sun for a moment and I knew I would have a moment of air. That liberating moment occurred seconds after the sun graced my head. My head bobbed out of the water for about ten seconds.
The heat radiated across my face and I gulped all the air I could. I used all of my strength, my muscle, and my will power for those ten seconds. The rapids tore me back down and I tried to remember the taste of the air.
Immediately, my body jerked towards one side then it ripped towards the other. My head snapped to the left when my body went to the right. The water tore me without thought or reason. One moment I would be towards the shore and the next, I would be drowning in the brunt of the rapids. My head snapped to the left, this time. I knew I would be jerked somewhere next so I put my hands out to try to stop the water from pushing me but that was only my instinct, not my logic. I was under for, well, a few more minutes I suppose before the rapids gave me another moment of air.
I raised my hand out of the water and the rapids decided that meant I got my chance. They ripped me out of the water, for a moment, and I swallowed the air. I gasped, opened my eyes to see boulders everywhere. But, I heavily inhaled that unseen remedy as my head once again enjoyed the sun’s warming rays. I swear, air tastes so damn good when you need it.
Then, I went back. The rapids once again grabbed me and did not let go. This time, I opened my eyes under water to see the damage. The water was moving sideways then upside down then towards me. I also saw my feet, they were dangling, lifeless it seemed. The water had taken them too. The water began rushing towards my pupils so I closed my eyes. That was when I slammed into the boulder.
The rock was sitting the midst of the rapids and my body crashed into it. I grabbed onto the boulder, my ribs felt broken, my legs mangled. I struggled to gasp for air, let alone breath. The water wanted me for itself, it kept trying to tear me from the boulder. I needed air, somewhere, somehow. I swear, the boulder had crunched some of my ribs to bits and my feet were numb. Every breath began to feel like my last as my ribs attacked my skin and my lungs began to give up. So, I climbed up or at least I tried to. The rapids kept coming, trying to pull me down for more. My adrenaline must have been pumping because I did it. I was able to get my eyes above the water and I saw the sun again. In that moment, I wanted to wait there, forever, and look at the pale yellow light above me.