Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Drowning in Reverse

A Drowning in Reverse

by Yvonne Horton

(Note to the reader: My neighbor told this story one night as we sat around our neighborhood campfire.  I have only embellished it with description for writing purposes. He swears it really happened.  I will let you decide.)

It was one of those unbearable hot August days with temperatures in the nineties and the air so thick with humidity that it was a chore just to get a good breath.  On Jamie’s suggestion we decided to take a walk around sunset along the three-quarter mile strip of Lake Ontario’s shore that bordered our small community.   A group of five or six teenagers, who had the same idea as we did, walked along the shore a few feet behind us.  Their pace was as sluggish as ours.

The light of day was fading fast. The sky over the lake was taking on the color of grey as a fog settled atop the water. Without a breeze to stir it, the water was still and smooth like glass.  There was an unusual lack of sound, no birds chirping or insects buzzing, only a gentle intermittent watery lap as the water floated to shore.

“It’s so quiet,” Jamie said, as if reading my mind.

“I was thinking the same thing,” I said.  “It’s strange, isn’t it?”

As if noticing our comments, the lake began to stir.  Slowly, at first, the water rolled small waves to the shore, breaking the silence. 

“Must be a speed boat out on the lake,” l said, looking out across the water.  However, the fog was so dense now that I could not see too far. There still was no breeze, yet the waves were increasing.

“Or maybe there’s a storm coming in,” Jamie said. She sounded worried.

“Well, let’s head back to the house, just in case,” I said.

We quickened our pace and the teenagers were now closer behind us.  They must have had the same idea.  As we moved faster, the lake began to churn sending white capped waves crashing to the shore.  The sound was deafening. Yet still there was no wind.  Ahead of us, about 20 feet away, I could see a good sized piece of drift wood rocking in the waves. It was floating half in and half out of the water. But, as we got closer I realized, and a chill went through me.

Jamie stopped walking. I was a few steps ahead of her and I stopped and turned to her.  The teenagers were caught up to us now, and they stopped, too. They were all staring straight ahead, all with the same shocked frightened look on their faces.

“Bob, is that a...?” Jamie started her tone tremulous.

“Yeah, I think it is,” I said. “Let’s go. Maybe we can help.”

We all reached the body at the same time.  We could tell that it was a man even though he was lying face down.  He was dressed in plaid shorts and a dark tee shirt.  The bottom half of his body was in the water while his upper body was on the shore, and his face was embedded in the sand to his hairline.  The waves, still crashing to shore, moved to enclose him to the shoulders. 

“Maybe we should turn him over,” one of the teens yelled above the cacophony of the lake’s turmoil. They all had their phones out now and were snapping pictures.   

“No, this might be a crime scene,” I yelled back.  “Stay here! I’m going to go call the police!”

I knew I had to walk back a few feet away from the shore or I wouldn’t be able to hear while on the phone. I prayed my phone would have reception. It did, and I made the call.

“There’s a body on the beach!” I yelled into the phone.

“Did someone drown?” the dispatcher asked.

“I don’t know!  We just found him!” I continued. The phone was crackling in and out.  I knew the connection was going to break. I yelled our location into the phone, hoping the dispatcher could hear me.  As soon as I finished speaking the phone went dead. 

I looked back to the shore.  Jamie was looking in my direction waving her arms in the air.  She was yelling something, but I couldn’t make out her words.  The teenagers were yelling, too, and pointing out towards the water. I ran to shore.

“We’re losing him!” Jamie was shouting.  I looked toward the water.

“He’s getting away!” One of the teens yelled, as if the body were an escaped prisoner or something.

They were right.  The man’s body was moving quickly against the tide of waves.  We could see it clearly as it was now encased in a sickly green colored cloud that glowed bright within the grey fog.  It was at least twenty feet from the shore.  I looked around and found what I needed.  I picked up the long fallen tree branch and headed into the water.

“Bob, what are you doing?” Jamie yelled.

“I’m going to try and snag it,” I yelled back.  “Stay there! The police should be here soon!”

I started moving.  I knew I could wade quite a ways out before I hit deep water.  This was a good thing as there was no way that I could not swim against the tide of waves that crashed against me.  Even so, the body was steadily moving out ahead of me and I kept thinking how unnatural it was.  It was all I could do to keep my feet against the force of the rolling waves.

The water was getting deeper.  The water was up to my shoulders now, and the waves were splashing into my face.  At times, I could feel the sandy bottom giving way beneath my feet.  Soon I would lose the safety of the sandbar and I would be in deep water.  Still, the body surrounded by its green cloud remained moving ahead of me.  I vaguely wondered if it was luring me to my death.

Just as this thought crossed my mind, everything stopped.  The lake was suddenly still and the silence and the dense fog seemed to enclose me.  I felt a sense of claustrophobia setting into my bones. About ten feet ahead of me the body stopped moving and lay motionless floating face down in the water.  The green light that enclosed it was gone.  It was just a body.  I was about to move forward to see if I could catch hold of it with the tree branch when it sunk beneath the water.  I stopped moving and the thought occurred to me that the body might be near me under the water, getting ready to drag me down with it.  It was then that the whirlpool started to churn directly above the spot where the body disappeared.

I stood there and I watched motionless as the man’s body began to rise slowly out of the center of the whirlpool.  He was in a standing position now.  Again, he was encased in the light of the green misty cloud.  I thought that maybe he was going to rise into the sky, but then is assent stopped so that the water swirled at his waist.  Only his head and torso were above the water.  It was as though beneath the water he was standing on some sort of platform.  I could only stare as he raised his arms out from his sides.  He turned his head to gaze deep into my eyes through deep dark sockets where his eyes once were.  Then he opened his mouth and spoke.

“I have to go back to my friends now,” he said His voice was deep, guttural, an almost liquid sound, that echoed through the fog over the still black water.  Yet in a tone that matter-of-fact yet almost apologetic.  Then, as slowly as he had risen he descended beneath the water.  For a few seconds, the glowing green mist remained above the spot where he disappeared and then it began to meld to nothingness into the grey fog.

I stood there a moment stunned by what I had seen and heard.  I took a step back and almost fell over.  Then shaken by the thought of sinking beneath the water, I released the tree branch and turned to half swim, half wade back to shore. 

Jamie and all the teenagers were clamoring as I reached solid ground.

“What happened?  Are you okay? Thank God your back!”  Their questions and comments came in a jumble.

“Did you see it?  Did you hear it?” I asked anxiously as I struggled to catch my breath.

“No, no we couldn’t see you or anything because of the fog,” Jamie said. “And we couldn’t hear anything above the noise of the waves.”

“Well, went too far out.  I couldn’t catch it. It just disappeared,” I explained simply. Jamie looked so stressed that I didn’t want to freak her out by telling her what I had seen and heard.

A few minutes later the police arrived and since there was no physical body to show them, the teenagers pulled out their phones to show the police the pictures they took.  But, every picture only showed a green mist and as they looked the green mist faded to black until all the pictures were blank.  There was no proof, but, even so, the police alerted the coast guard.  Yet, no body was ever found.

 A few days later I told Jamie what I saw and heard while out in the water that night. As I related the story to her I realized that what I had witnessed was a drowning in reverse. As well, I knew that I would never forget the drowning man for the rest of my life.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Update 101914

Hello Everyone! It is getting cold here on the shores of Lake Ontario, but no frost yet. I haven’t posted an update in a while and thought I should let you all in on some of the goings on. (This may end up a long post and I hope I don’t bore you too much).

So far this year my life has been a little stressful. As you may know from an earlier post, Mom was in the hospital with emergency surgery for gastro-intestinal problems early in the year. Since then her forgetfulness has blossomed into dementia. I talk to Mom for about a half hour everyday, but unfortunately, I have not been able to visit her regularly as I’ve been dealing with some medical/dental problems of my own. It’s nothing life threatening, but it’s enough to put me out of commission for a few weeks at a time. However, I am seeing a light at the end of this tunnel and should be back on track soon.

Mom is still functioning with day-to-day living activities, but can be stubborn and surly when it comes to other things ranging from going to doctor’s appointments to arguing about what day it is. She calls me 3-5 times a day (sometimes more). She is obviously lonely and bored, yet she refuses to attend any of the outings or activities available to her at the senior living apartment building where she lives. This is unfortunate as I think she would have a wonderful time and it would give her more structure to her life. My brother, sister-in-law, and I have been working to find an amicable solution to these problems that may involve her moving from a senior living facility to a more assistive-living facility.

I didn’t get to as much gardening as I planned this past summer, although the small amount that I did plant in my herb garden flourished. The wild flowers I planted last year and the gladiolas came up and blossomed beautifully as well, so, it wasn’t a complete loss.

During my recovery times, I had a chance to get to some serious re-writing/editing of my book. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever finish it, but I keep plugging along. I am happy with the way the story is turning out and sometimes it changes in ways I didn’t at first expect. When that happens I have to review and change small details, but that’s okay as I love getting lost in the process of writing. 

My newest feline editions, Cricket and Skipper, are getting bigger everyday. They settle in for more quiet time with me than they did at first, but they still enjoy kitten activities such as randomly running through the house at top speed, attempting to climb the windows, and trying to explore small spaces where they no longer fit. The last activity is especially true of Cricket. A few weeks ago I was walking past an antique cupboard in the dining room and saw Skipper staring at the bottom edge of the cupboard. It was then that I noticed a grey tail. Cricket had squeegee-d herself under the cupboard and was teasing her brother. Luckily, she was able to get out on her own, but she has since discovered she no longer can fit there. Skipper is noticeably bigger than Cricket and he has a fascination with water. The bathroom is his favorite room as there is so much water activity. Last week while I was in the shower I looked up to find him perched above me on the ledge of the shower doors. I was a little concerned that he might jump in so I shooed him away. He hasn’t done this again since, but I am always on the lookout. They sometime do things I don’t appreciate, like dumping over some of my houseplants, but these things are to be expected with young cats. The other night they stole my glasses off my nightstand and it took me all day to find them where they hid them behind a bookcase. I was so happy when I did find them because it’s difficult to read or write without them, and driving without them isn’t a good idea either. However, overall Cricket and Skipper are very entertaining and lots of company, and I love having them as part of my family.

Well, that’s it for now. I hope I didn’t bore you to death. Until next time, I wish you all good health and happiness. PeaceJ (yh) 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Kelly Darke - Fine Art: 7 reasons saving things is not hoarding

Kelly Darke - Fine Art: 7 reasons saving things is not hoarding: fiber necklace from that recycled sweater yarn I have met many artists who collect materials for their work and end up with an overwhelm...

Monday, January 20, 2014

Looking Forward to a Better Week

I can only hope that the coming week is better than last week.  I had the flu last week, complete with headache, sneezing, chills and a churning tummy ache.  I tried to barrel through it for the first part of the week, but by Thursday, I had to give in and take to my bed.  I am feeling better now though not perfect.

The sad news last week was that my mom’s Seeing Eye dog, Ula, had to be retired.  Ula is ten years old and showing signs of aging.  Ten is quite old for a working dog.  My mom generally retired her previous dogs at around eight years old.  Upon retirement, most of her other dogs were adopted by friends or relatives to live out the rest of their years.  I adopted her last dog, Crystal, who was my constant companion for two years until she succumbed to cancer.

Mom took Ula to the vet for a check-up on Friday at which time it was discovered that she had a tumor on her spleen and would not any longer have the ability to be a guide. Mom was, of course, devastated.  However, the vet assured her that if Ula survived surgery and recovered that they would find her a good home.  It seems the vet has a client, a woman who recently lost her dog, who is need of a companion and Ula is the perfect candidate.  My mom agreed to this arrangement.  Hopefully, this will all turn out for the best.

Mom is doing well all things considered.  She phoned The Seeing Eye to ask for an application to begin the process of training for another guide dog.  We are hoping she is strong enough to go through training process, which is quite rigorous.  In her late eighties, she is still active within the community, yet does have days when she tires easily.  However, she is a determined woman who will not back down from a challenge unless it proves undefeatable.

In the meantime, we will miss Ula’s presence in our lives…

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wait Another Day

Wait Another Day

My head is throbbing,
My stomach is churning.
I have too much to do
To have the flu.
And so I get up
And have a cup.
But the voice in my head
Says, “Go back to bed.
For you know what they say
Tomorrow‘s another day.”

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Photos from the Neighborhood

I am happy to report that the deep freeze is over, well, for now anyway. I took advantage of the warmer temperatures to take a walk around the neighborhood to snap some photos. There is a  park behind my house, Durand Eastman Park, packed with forest trails and waterways. Most of these photos are from the park. Enjoy...

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Sometimes, I simply write...

Because I’m a writer, I have to write.  Writing is my best form of communication, not just with others, but with me. There are times when I sit down with paper and pen or pencil, or sit down at the keyboard with no idea or plan as to what I will write. I simply write.

There is something magical about the writing of words without thought as to what I am writing. Random thoughts appear in an endless flow of words filling the once blank page. Even in abstract, they have meaning. The words might seem gibberish to someone else, but for me they bring clarity to my world. Once written and read, I might find answers to a problem I’m facing, or I might discover something that is bothering me, or I might discover a new idea or line for a story or poem.  

For me, writing is a release and a relief from the everyday worries that life can bring.

I have to write because I am a writer. And sometimes, I simply write...