‘Na! Na!’ I feel rocks cutting into my knees. Glimmers. Flashes. Beams of muted light. Syrupy sound. Down, down. Wet blackness covers me while glistening air bubbles rise above me.
I feel hands around my wrists. Hands shaking my shoulders.
I see Lily looking into my face. Lily pulling me to my feet.
‘Jenna! What’s the matter! What happened? Jenna! Jenna!’
The pond is still. My clothes are dry. One knee is cut. A small bead of watery blood forms. ‘I—’
‘Are you all right?’ Lily’s pupils are pinpoints. Her voice pierces me.
‘I think so.’ I’m not sure what happened. Everything seemed different. The pond was so huge, and I was so small. I thought it was covering me. I couldn’t see.
I thought I was drowning.
Mother signs off the Net with Father and crosses the kitchen to where I sit. She has been talking to him privately for fifteen minutes about the small cut on my knee. She tried to get Lily to treat it, but Lily balked, saying she hadn’t practiced medicine in fifteen years and that she had never practiced that kind of medicine. ‘He said it should be fine,’ Mother says. ‘It should heal just like any other cut.’
‘It is just like any other cut.’
‘Not exactly,’ Lily mumbles as she sits in the chair opposite me.
Mother explodes. ‘I told you, Jenna! I told you! I said don’t leave the house!’
‘But I did.’
Mother crumples into another chair at the table. She rubs one temple. ‘What happened?’ she says more softly.
‘I was crossing the creek. I stepped on the first stone. And then …’ I try to remember exactly what happened next.
‘Then what?’ Mother says, her voice wrung tight.
I remember. More. ‘Did I almost drown?’
‘The creek’s only a few inches—’
Lily cuts her off. ‘Yes. A long time ago. She wasn’t even two.’
‘But she couldn’t possibly remember—’
I remember. I look at Mother and Lily, their expressions identical, like the air has been squeezed from their lungs. ‘I remember birds. White birds. I remember falling. I fell so far. And I screamed and water filled my mouth …’
Lily pushes back her chair and stands. ‘We were at the bay. I let go of Jenna’s hand for only a second, just long enough to get money out of my purse for a snow cone. I was paying for it, and when I turned around, she was already at the end of the dock. She ran so fast. It was the gulls. There were gulls at the end of the dock and she didn’t stop. She was so focused on those birds, she didn’t hear me scream. I saw her go over and I ran. She was already sinking, and I jumped in after her.’
Lily talks about me like she is talking about someone else.
Like I am not in the room.
‘You bought me another snow cone. A week later when we went back. It was—’