The Depths of Tragedy

The summer of ‘23 was when Troy Conners adamantly decided to brave his fears and become a better version of his troubled self. The world hasn’t spun like clockwork for years, it only bled like an open wound which slowly killed him. Following his younger brother’s death, time had stretched and stagnated. Soon, it had flowed quickly, meaningless years slipping away from his grasp like sand.

Troy was at Lake Evergreen, a brilliantly beautiful lake in the middle of pine trees for miles. In the summer days Lake Evergreen was teeming with people. Even with sparks of summer life all around him, the contrast of joyous emotions to his own made the experience uncomfortable. This aside, it felt liberating to crawl out of his depression and drive away from his house for a day. His house was where his parents either resided in silent misery or in bursts of unpredictable anger. His house was where an empty room had become a black hole, sucking all of the happiness out of his family.

Troy stood like a soldier on the lake’s large wooden dock, staring into the depths of the lake. Although the water was crystal clear and gleaming in the sunlight, it only represented the worst in Troy’s eyes. It represented cold, unrelenting tragedy. It represented depression, death, pain, and everything that tore at Troy’s consciousness. Lake Evergreen was where his brother drowned.

Troy stared deep into the depths of the waters. He saw a murky future, even in the clear fresh water. He didn’t know what braving his fears would bring, but at least it was a future at all. Troy slowly bent his legs. With one fluent motion he leaped into the water.

The icy water swarmed Troy’s senses almost instantly, bringing back the adrenaline he always remembered from years ago. He sputtered quickly, shivering rapidly until his body started warming him up. For a minute or so, he indulged himself, letting the brisk temperature wash away his thoughts. Soon, unpleasant memories overwhelmed him even more than the physical bliss.

“There’s nothing to be scared of!” Troy beckoned to his brother.

“I’ve never swam before,” he responded sheepishly.

“Hey man, I got you. If you don’t want to come to me, jump off close to the dock so you can hold on to the pillars,” Troy suggested.

What happened next he would never forgive himself. His brother jumped in too far from the dock, frantic almost the instant he got into the water.

“Hey, relax,” Troy remembered saying, overconfident in his brother's abilities. “Just kick your legs in the water and you’ll do fine. I can keep you afloat if you're having trouble.”

Seeing his brother was doing a decent job at treading, Troy looked away for a short while. Troy turned and opened his mouth yet paused mid speech. His brother wasn’t there. Once he dove under the water, he realized just how deep the lake was. Through his waterlogged eyes he could see his brother had his mouth open, struggling to get to the surface. Running out of breath, Troy swam to the surface with breakneck speed.

He remembered calling desperately for help, knowing he wasn’t strong enough to help his brother to the surface. He shrieked into the crowded beach area. He cried his heart out, a deep pain of guilt devouring his chest. He dove a second time but he couldn’t see his brother's wavy hair below him anymore. By the time people noticed, it was far too late.

He remembered this exact moment because he had re-lived it so many times. He was swimming in the same area that it happened. Even though he was 13 then and 16 now, he had condemned himself so many times for being that blind. He had condemned his parents for dropping them off at the lake unattended.

Now salty tears fell down his face as he re-lived these moments. People were staring at him all around, yet he didn’t care. It was his moment, he wasn’t afraid to spill all of his emotions into the lake. He thought of ripping himself limb for limb. He thought of sinking to the bottom too. Even though he felt even worse in some aspects, he also felt new or at least reformed. He hadn't gone swimming in 3 years because of his brother. Today, he was reborn as himself again. Not the regretful person who trudged through every painful step of life. He was free.

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