I can feel the water around my shoulders. Cocooning me. Protecting me. Hiding me. Shielding me. My toes on my leg balances on the bed of sand below me. I’ve become real good at balancing. On the floor. On the stairs. On life. Standing like this with all eternity in front of me draws me into a pensive mood. I yank myself out of it. I don’t want it. I don’t want to think about what happened.
Instead, I pretend. Pretend that this was a day in my life a year ago. Pretend I’m exhausted from a swim. Pretend I’m treading the water with both of my legs instead of barely standing on one. The water covers me and makes it easier to pretend. Soon, I am sucked into my daydream. After this swim, I’ll go home. Natalie will be there, smiling like she always does. She swipes my hair affectionately and hands me a towel. She won’t be halfway across the country, in another man’s bed. Then I’ll go out for lunch with her, at a little expensive cafe. I can pay the bills. I’ve got money in my wallet. Funds saved in my bank account. Money that’s not going to be used for therapy and doctor examinations. Later, we go back home together. We can walk back. Hold hands. Play with the dogs. It is the perfect life. This was my perfect life.
Stop. You’ve got to stop this, Jacob, I scold. This isn’t your life anymore. Pretending like this is just hurting yourself more. You’ve got to stop. Suddenly, a tide gently brushes past me. It’s a small wave, relaxing and tranquil. But even that small a wave makes me lose my balance and fall over. My head goes under. I don’t know if I want it to come up again.