Short Story

Past, Present and Future

She couldn’t remember ever feeling so low, so confused and heartbroken before that night. It felt as if someone took a knife, and jabbed her in the chest. A blade jagged along an oak handle. The pain in her chest similar to those she experienced while giving birth to her three kids. With each jolting pain in her chest she questioned if this was the end? Where had things gone so wrong in her life? Is Karma real? Is God?

Approaching the sandy shores, miles from the home she had known and fought to keep for fifteen years, Stephanie felt hopeless. Stephanie did not want it to end, but she could not endure the pain any longer. It seemed to her that no matter what she did or didn’t do, life just seemed to be the same for her. More downs than ups. She felt that she had cursed her kids to the same fate as she watched and listened to each of them struggling with their own demons. Their own battles. The salty air seemed to calm her. Welcoming her in a cool embrace. Whispers from the roaring waves in front of her also welcoming her to come just a little closer. It was as if there was a voice within the waters beckoning her.

This was it! She knew she had to do this. Had to end the suffering. Break the cycle. She hoped in doing so that it would free her kids to have a better life. A chance at least at it. As the cool water pounded against her feet, Stephanie began thinking back on her life before it all seem to go wrong. The last memory she has before it all began was as a child. Life was simple and magical. Her only cares were playing with her toys, her brother, and watching TV. Sometimes, when no one was around she would sing in her room or write about a faraway place. When she would be in the mood for singing, she would pretend to put on a concert. Her favorite people would be in the front row cheering her on. Those who had been cruel to her at school or in the neighborhood would be sitting in the nosebleed section. These bullies would always have a look of shock on their faces. Sometimes, she caught what appeared to be jealousy in their eyes.

These secret moments were the happiest for Stephanie. These moments gave her hope. Hope that she would prove every one of them wrong one day. Prove that she is somebody. That it doesn’t matter how you dress or where you live. How much money your family has or if you are the smartest person in the class. Everyone deserves a chance. Everyone deserves to be treated kindly and fair. To be happy. Other than when her family would go on picnics, bike rides, summer trip to Grandmas’; the only other time she felt that she fit in and belonged was at church.

Even there though, sometimes she still felt as if she was a misfit. She felt transparent. That others could see her sins. This is still true for her to this day. Stephanie has walked around her life always feeling that people can see through her. See her mistakes.  Her ugliness. No, she is not a bad person. Stephanie’s driving and criminal record is as clean as rain. However, she was not for most of her life treated as such.

As all of her memories and emotions flooded through her mind and heart, the pain began increasing. Her feet carried quickly and deeper into the cold blue waters. Stephanie just wanted it to end. Nothing seemed to matter anymore. The water rose and rose. Nearing her waist. The pain, numbing the icy dark waters that would normally chill a person to the bone, especially, during the winter season in North Country. Normally, Stephanie would not be anywhere near the beach, whether it was winter or not. She was not one who liked the beach. Didn’t like the cold, and yet, she lived as close to the cold as one could be.

Far off in the distance in front of her, a light glistened on the water. It seemed as if it was singling her out. A light paving the way towards an unknown and unseen darkness. This seemed very odd to her. Odd and yet familiar, almost comforting. Her eyes stayed focused on the lit path in front of her. Beneath the water, Stephanie’s feet motionless and yet she found herself moving. How is this possible? She thought to herself. The curiosity did not linger in her mind or deter her focus. It felt to her that she was in a dream. Maybe this is what death looks like? She heard throughout her life that people who have had near death experiences, saw a light. Some sort of lit tunnel. Although this lit path was no tunnel, maybe this is the way her body saw it. Her emotions, her soul.

For the first time in a very long time, Stephanie was no longer afraid. No longer hopeless. This would be it. She would be leaving her life and the world that had always been so cruel to her. No more poverty. No more bullies. No more dead end jobs and dead end relationships. No more…kids. Since stepping into the lit path, Stephanie had not even thought of her kids. In this moment, she began to feel hesitant. Was she doing the right thing? If she moves forward along the lit path, what will happen to her kids? A warm breeze surrounded her. It felt as if someone was hugging her. Other than the lit path she could see anything else, not even her own hands. Looking back towards the shores that no longer were visible.

How is it possible, she thought, to be so far out into the ocean and yet still above water? What was it that just surrounded me? As the questions flooded her, so did the water. Deeper and deeper she went until she could no longer see the lit path.


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