I remember a lake.
I am not drowning.
But I could be.
I wish I was, but I don't drown.
I just stand with water up to my chin and look out to the land.
I don't know where or when I am. Just that I was in a lake.
There is a lake.
I died on a quiet June night. My body left the lake with a ghost haunting it.
Summer is a season of bittersweetness and grief.
There are nights when I wonder if anyone remembers what I looked like.
That little girl kicking at the waves, tanned from hours under the sun and just-healing scratches on her arms.
I avoid my reflection.
I do not want to admit I am no longer that girl.
I do not want to admit that she died long before the lake.
Was there ever anyone with me?
My memories are filled with trees and bugs and Junes at the lake without a single soul besides me.
You have to understand: I am my mother's daughter before I am anything else.
This is why I swallow my nightmares down with lake water
try to grin and bear it and wear those flowy white dresses.
Better pretty and empty and dying than having my wounds permanently opened.
She didn't teach me how to swim;
She taught me how to hold iron nails beneath my tongue
how to suffocate screams before they're born how to sew my fingers back onto my hand how to wear a corpse like it's just another jacket.
My mother didn't teach me how to lie,
only how to believe in them.
I don't see her anymore. Don't see anyone anymore.
Now, it's just me, in the lake, watching the stars who are just as lonely as I am.
Dreams of the past and the present and delusions of the future;
My mind is stuck in all of them dead and alive and not-yet- born
and a little girl and a drowning woman all at once.
You can be happy, she whispers to me.
Like all her other lies, I believe this one as well.
When June comes I wonder if I can live again, wonder if it's worth it.
I look at the ghost of the girl I was and I reach for her. Waist deep in the lake, I embrace the unforgiving current.
My voice comes weak,
comes saying, Can we be kind?
with a desperation that has long since burrowed into me;
I am tired of hurting. I am trying not to choke on these words,
stuck with water in my lungs and the ghost of a little girl in a lake
whispering dreams to the faceless monster underwater --
I want to be young and free again.
I want to breathe.