writer / horror enthusiast

I’ve never been much for swimming. I just don’t like it – and especially not in large bodies of water. They kind of freak me out.

That’s why I wasn’t too happy about it when my family decided to stop at a lake on the way home from our annual camping trip. We’d had a fantastic weekend, and I was ready to go home.  Unfortunately, both my mom and dad wanted to check out a spot they’d heard was great for swimming, and since my little sister wanted to go too, I could hardly muster much objection.

We got there around midday, and it was obvious that our quick dip was going to become another night of camping. To be fair, the lake was gorgeous. The weather was ideal, and there was a picturesque mountain range just on the far shore behind which the sun would inevitably set, streaking globs of deep red paint across the summer sky. Mom and dad looked happier than I’d seen them in a long time. Who was I to try to say no to that?

Of course, sis wanted to go swimming just around sunset. This idea horrified me, but my parents insisted that I take her out. It would be quick – we could just dip our toes in, splash around, and be back in time for fire-roasted hot dogs. No worries.

And I really thought that was going to be how it went. That was, until she started swimming out farther than we’d agreed on. “Look at me!” she shouted. “Catch me!” Her laughter was high and sweet, but I had a wrenching feeling in my gut even then. Still, I swam after her.

Suddenly I could tell she’d gone too far. The bottom dropped out from under her sharply; the lake becoming far deeper than she’d anticipated this close to shore. She thrashed about in the water. I  jumped off the bottom, throwing myself forward into a full swim. It seemed like ages, but I finally reached her. As I threw myself onto her form, arms and legs splayed and flailing, I saw the smile on her face turn to shock, but it was too late.

She’d just been joking – she knew that I was scared of the deep water and had wanted to lure me out there as a prank. But what she didn’t know is that I’ve always been scared because I’m a bad swimmer. I was too embarrassed to admit it, but I never trusted myself to be able to swim out of the deep end. That fear had gone out of me when I saw what I thought was my sister drowning, but as I reached her, the reality of the situation set in.

I clung to her, and my weight was too much. Her head went underwater, but I was too scared to let go. That was the last time my sister and I ever swam together, and now there’s a new reason I’m afraid of the water.

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