Continued from Doomed Mennonite
The water was starting to cover my face as I went under. I panicked. I began fighting for the next breath, knowing that there was no air left.
I woke up from the heavy breathing sound I was making. I felt like I had been underwater for real. I was so cold and I began shaking uncontrollably. I couldn’t fall back asleep after that.
As I lay there awake, freaked out about the dream, I began to think that I should try to avoid Bree as much as possible. I knew that she was having some jealous feelings about my friendship with George, but I thought she had gotten over it.
Life was supposed to be getting easier for me, especially after the week I had had. I was going to grade nine soon and getting that award that I could hang on my wall. Finally, I would have something to show that I was good at something. And not just anything -- this was proof that I wasn’t really a hard learner.
I began to realize that doing well in school wasn’t really going to fix everything like I had hoped it would. I was still having nightmares about being in the water, seeking answers from my deceased grandfather in Posen Land, and feeling like I was literally drowning in so much.
I thought, “Bree is not really my friend and I guess she doesn’t think that I am too young to want to die anymore. She is willing to help me get it done already. Ugh, how will I ever know who’s actually my friend for real? Okay, but this is not real, it was just a dream!”
There was no way I could fall asleep after all that. I just got up, called my teacher, and left her a message saying that I was going to the library instead of coming to school. While getting ready to go to the library with Christina, I thought, “I really hope she is a real friend.”
The whole time I was getting ready, that dream just kept popping to the front of my thoughts. I thought, “I need to find out what this is all about. Why do I dream about water so much and how can I stop it? Maybe I just need to learn how to swim. I really should learn how to swim.”
At the library, I just followed Christina to the section where she was looking for a book to help her deal with her anger. I was amazed all over again when I saw the number of books that were in one place. I thought, “Somewhere in that mountain of books, there must be the answers to all my questions. I just have to find them.”
I felt Christina’s pain more than I could express to her. Though our situations were very different I thought they were similar in a way. I felt that I finally had a chance to learn how others deal with all the stuff about suicide.
I thought that it was a learning opportunity for me. It was so interesting to me that she would say out loud how she felt about it, even if it was dark, ugly, and uncomfortable.
I felt relieved that I finally had someone that I could talk to about that. Ever since my grandfather’s funeral, I felt terrible for thinking that my grandpa may have gone to hell. I heard people at the funeral say that he went to hell because he took his own life. No one ever talked about any of that as I grew up.
I tried to just put it away, but I often had nightmares about it and that would cause me to think and feel bad about it all over again. And I would try to make sense of it again. I really wanted to learn more about how others handled that even if I would never understand it.
I picked out a few self-help books myself. Silent Grief: Living in the Wake of Suicide; Surviving a Stalker: How to Keep Yourself Safe; Fitting Life's Pieces Together; Learning How To Stop Feeling Guilty; and then I stumbled on the best one yet, about how to get over the worst first kiss ever.
“Wow, you’re going to read all those?” Christina asked.
“I want to, but I will probably just look at the pictures in them and pretend that I am reading.”
She laughed and that was the first time I heard her laugh after Richard committed suicide.
As we carried our pile of books to the car, we could barely see, it had begun to snow very heavily. We decided to go to the coffee shop across the street. Christina bought me a cappuccino. We sat down and watched the snow falling as we sipped away at them.
I told her about how Bree was embarrassing me every chance she got and that I thought it was because she was jealous of my friendship with George. I asked if she thought that I should still invite George to the award ceremony or if I should just stay away from him too.
“Anna, tomorrow night is all about you. You should be able to invite anyone you like, including your friend George, if it is important to you that he be there,” she said.
She gave me the courage to talk myself into inviting him. “Okay, yes it is important to me. I would like it if he came. I mean, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have even started school yet. I am just going to do it! I will invite him then,” I said.
“Great! You do that. I am so proud of you, Anna, and you should be so proud of yourself. You have worked your butt off learning full speed ahead no matter how hard it was. I am so happy that you are getting that award.”
“Thank you,” I said, while I felt like hugging her.
The gusts of wind began blowing the snow around, everything looked white. We couldn’t even see the street sign anymore. We quickly made our way back to the car and started heading back to my apartment. Christina turned on the radio and they were telling people to stay home because we were in for some nasty weather.
“It sounds like we might not have to go to work tonight,” Christina said.
We barely made it to my apartment safely. I offered her to come in and stay until the storm passed but she wanted to go to her mom’s house. It was only a couple of blocks away.
I made my way up the stairs and into my apartment with my pile of self-help books. I checked my messages, and sure enough, our shift had been canceled. I thought “Great! This is perfect, I am going to read all night... or I will try to, anyway.”
I sat down, still thinking about my dream. I thought I would start reading right away to see if that would help me stop thinking about it. Then there was a knock at the door. I put the book down and opened the door. It was George. He had this frantic look on his face as he came barging in.
“Have you heard about the storm that’s coming? We all got sent home early because of it.”
“Yes, and that my shift has been canceled,” I answered.
“Okay, I just wanted to check and see if you were home, if you knew that your shift has been canceled and that there is a nasty storm coming.”
He noticed my pile of books and said, “Wow, you are reading a lot.”
He looked at all the books and picked up the one about the worst first kiss ever and looked at me with one eyebrow raised and smiled. He put it down and said, “Sorry, Anna, I shouldn’t be so nosy.”
“That’s okay, I don’t mind,” I answered.
“What are you doing tomorrow night? Are you busy, do you have plans?” I asked.
“Nope, no plans. I’m always home drawing tattoos. I am probably the most boring person you know,” he answered.
“Ahhh… boring? I don’t think so. We’ll talk about that more another time. Would you like to come to the award ceremony? I mean only if you feel like it.”
“Absolutely, Anna. Yes, I would love to come. I felt a bit strange after you bolted for the door as fast as you could when you saw me yesterday. I was worried that Bree might have said something to scare you.”
I turned all red and didn’t know where to turn my face as I remembered everything that Bree said. I wondered if she actually went over to his place after work.
“I know that she was asking you about what I have been doing. I told her if she wants to know she can ask me herself. And besides, that is none of her business anymore. I told her not to drag you into her head games if she wants to stay friends with me,” he explained.
“She seriously needs to grow up and move on already. I told her to get the idea of us getting back together out of her head. But I think she didn’t listen to me and is stalking me instead. Last night I saw her car driving by about five times,” he said.
“Oh no! I hope she doesn’t plant a bomb in the factory.”
“Don’t worry, Anna. I think everyone has learned recently exactly what happens to people who try that,” he said. He laughed as he walked to the window.
“Wow! That is some serious snow coming down out there,” he said.
“I hope Christina gets to her mom’s house safely.”
“How is Christina doing?” he asked.
“Not so good. She picked up some books to learn how to get over a man that would rather kill himself then marry her,” I told him.
“Oh f#ck!” he said.
“I know, I really hope that she will be okay,” I answered.
George picked up the book again about how to get over the worst first kiss. As he was flicking through the pages, I told him that I finally had all the ingredients to make komstborscht and tacos. I asked if he wanted to stay for dinner, I thought, “This is a perfect time since we aren’t going anywhere.”
“Heck yes! Tell me what I can do to help.”
“Ahhh… well, there is something you can do. You know, reading all those books will take me forever, would you read to me while I make komstborscht?”
“Ahhh…. Sure,” he said as he continued to flip through the pages of the book and said, “I’ll read this one to you.”
“Ahhh… No, not that one,” I answered.
“Why can’t I read this one?”
“Because I need to read that one all by myself.”
“Okay, which one would you like me to read then?”
I asked if he could read a chapter out of the book about suicide.
“This is some seriously dark shit, Anna.”
“I know! Dark shit that I need to learn what to do with. Every time I am dealing with something I can’t handle, that dark shit turns to dark water and when I am supposed to be safe in my bed sleeping. I am drowning in it because I can’t swim! I can’t swim George. I can’t swim.”
I got all worked up and held my breath again.
He said, “Oh shit, I’m sorry,” and threw the book down as he got up and put his arms around me. He rocked me back and forth in his arms and whispered in my ear, “Just breathe Anna, breathe, shhh… breathe.”
The warmth of his body, his voice in my ear and breathing in his scent calmed me right down.
When I lifted my head I was so impressed I couldn’t even look at him. He put his index finger under my chin, lifted my head and said, “It’s okay, Anna. I will read that whole f#cking book to you if that is what you want me to do.” Click here to continue reading my story.