I Survived

by Irene H. O.

I survived. She didn’t. When I heard it in the news, that she was gone, I cried. I was devastated. I mean, the girl I had known my whole life, the girl who was always there for me, helping me, my best friend was… gone. Forever. And there was nothing that I could do.

Isabel Marie Washington was my best friend. Everyone knew it. It was like how here in Seattle rain is just a part of everyday life. We were the same way. I mean, we had known each other our whole lives, so it made sense. Us being together was a part of everyday life, so when I came to school one day, without her, everyone looked really sad and sympathetic. I heard the whispers, and I realized that most of my peers knew more about what happened than I did. I assumed the the worst. I was right. You see, it wasn’t like she was sick; she would have called,. And she couldn’t have been at the doctor’s office, I would have been there with her, comforting her (she was scared of the doctor’s office). Also I meet her at the park every day before school, and she wasn’t there. And then, of course, the strange reactions from my classmates when I arrived at school.

Later that afternoon, after I had tried to reach her, when I was sitting on the couch, watching TV,  the news came on. I didn’t pay attention until I heard two names, two very familiar ones. Jackie Martin “Hey- That’s me”, I thought”, and… Isabel Marie Washington. There was a clip of two girls flailing around in a large body of water, holding hands. It showed a man jumping in the water, swimming to them and pulling them towards the shore. It was filmed with a digital camera, not a fancy one.

I was confused, so I tried to think back to the day before, which is when the newspeople were saying it had happened. Nothing. I couldn’t remember any of it. I decided to listen to what the reporters were saying. “One of the girls, after being rushed to the hospital, was in critical condition, and unfortunately didn’t make it, but the other one survived, barely. The girl that survived was a better swimmer than her friend, and could have left her to drown, but instead she tried to save her friend, even if it didn’t work”.

Then they moved on to some story about a missing woman, but I wasn’t paying attention. I thought about what the newspeople had said. It didn’t make any sense. Then my memory came back.

Apparently my best friend had died. Apparently I almost died. Apparently I had lost my memory of what had happened the day before. Apparently… I had run out of things to say. It was at that moment that I collapsed. I felt like dying. It was my fault, I hadn’t been able to save her, no matter how I tried. She was dead. I finally realized what it was like to be sad, truly sad. I had never realized that the feeling of infinite sadness actually existed. I was sort-of depressed, but not really. At that time I was actually just in this confusing, dark state of shock. And then my parents came into the room. “Honey… you ok?”.  It wasn’t even a question, really, more of a sympathetic statement, trying to make me feel… I don’t even know. It didn’t work. I burst. “Do I look OK?!” I shrieked. “Of course I’m not OK!” I went back to sobbing “Just leave me alone!” I rushed to my room. I thought about what happened that day. The day it happened.

We had had a sleepover the night before. In the morning, we decided we were bored, and we wanted to go somewhere. We chose the beach. It was a cold, foggy day, like most Seattle days, but we had made up our minds. Later on, we were swimming by the shore, and I suggested we go further into the water. She agreed, but said we should bring the raft, just in case. I consented, and off we went. Isabel wasn’t a great swimmer, but she managed. We were going back to shore when the cloudy sky got grayer and it started to rain. At that point we took hands, scared that we would lose each other otherwise. We lost our sense of where we were going, and we couldn’t see the beach through the fog. “This was a bad idea!” I shouted though the wind “I’m aware of that!” Isabel responded. We waited where we were for a while, but the tide was coming in, and we were being pushed towards the shore. We were happy for a minute, but then we realized that there were some huge waves we had to pass in order to make it back. One of those waves was the one we got caught in. Isabel fell off the raft and got swept into the rough waves. She screamed and caught my attention. I swam towards her, to help, thinking I could just pull her out or something, but then I got caught too. We were flailing around, like they showed in the clip from the news. Somebody on the beach saw us,  and, acting smart, like I should have, they called 911. The paramedics and police came right in time, and one of them jumped in and saved us. Next thing I knew, people with flashing cameras surrounded the hospital bed I was in, and Isabel’s bed too. I didn’t know what was happening, and I was really confused, so I closed my eyes and just listened to the rapid, hushed voices around me. The only two full sentences I heard were “They’re both in critical condition” and later “This one’s dead” I was too tired to process, yet I knew. She was gone.

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