What She Didn’t Know

I tried to draw in one last breath before we broke the surface, but within a second, we were already submerged. Cold, mucky water burst in through the half open window on the passenger’s side, and muffled Marissa’s screams. I felt the front of the car begin to sink, and hurriedly fumbled around for my seatbelt. The frigid water numbed my skin, and stung my eyes that I strained to keep open. My seatbelt clicked and I turned to see Marissa, flailing and gasping for breath. Her seatbelt was locked and pinning her against her seat. I quickly turned to my window and felt around for the door handle. 

It seemed that my throbbing headache was beginning to affect my vision. I set my cup on a nearby table and scanned the room. I saw her, crying and yelling at him while he tried to calm her down. I staggered over to her.

 “M, it’s time to go,” I muttered, and held back the urge to vomit, “we gotta get out of here.” 

Her tear-filled eyes met mine, and with a sigh, she wiped away the mascara that had run down her flushed cheeks. 

 “Okay,” she nodded, giving him one last look of disdain before grabbing my outstretched hand. 

He offered to drive us. We continued out the door, laughing and stumbling towards my mom’s car that was parked a few doors down. 

“I love you, girl,” she said. Guilt jabbed at my gut, but I knew her words were true, even though she was incredibly drunk. 

My lungs were beginning to convulse and I felt more shocks of panic shoot through my body. I found the door handle and violently began to tug on it. It refused to open. My trembling fingers found and switched the window lock button above the handle, and I gave it one more yank, finally feeling the click of the door. I pushed the door open and climbed out of my seat, using my feet to surge forward into the surrounding water. The only light that illuminated the murky lake was from the pale moonlight that had become dimmer and dimmer as we were sinking. With all the energy left in me, I fought back the urge to gasp and willed my limbs to keep thrashing through the icy water. I saw no sign of my best friend, or the car. I looked below my feet and glimpsed the bright yellow bumper sticker reflecting the moonlight, as the back of the car followed the front, vanishing into the black. 

“He’s such a friggin JERK,” Marissa yelled gleefully out her window, “He can go die for all I care!” She giggled and hiccuped loudly.

 “M, you know you don’t mean that,” I felt my words begin to slur, “but yyouare right hesure isa jerk.” I tried to ignore the kiss that was replaying in my mind, but no matter how hard I tried it kept resurfacing. 

What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.

We began to merge onto the highway, and I felt us drift a little outside of our lane. Snap out of it, I repeated to myself, struggling to keep the vehicle moving in a straight line. I found it difficult to keep my eyes on the glowing yellow lines on the road that reflected my headlights. 

“Why was he even denying it,” she chided, “Kelsie told me she saw him kissing some girl behind the gym on Wednesday.” 

Panic spread through my body and I was sure she could hear my heart pounding inside my chest. 

“Do you have any idea who he would’ve been kissing?” 

She looked over at me, and I felt her gaze on the side of my face. I turned to look at her, slowly inhaling a shaky breath as my mind raced. We locked eyes for a moment, hers wide open and questioning, and mine full of betrayal. I was looking at her eyes when a pair of headlights appeared in the dark, racing straight towards us. I frantically turned the steering wheel to avoid  the approaching vehicle, as the sound of her screams pierced the night air.

I squinted through the dimly lit water and searched for any sign of movement. As I strained and turned, pure dread slowly began to seep into my brain and my body, and I was suddenly filled with the realization of what had just happened. Now my lungs were contracting and releasing within my chest, begging for a taste of air, tugging at my lips to open and take in a gulp. I looked up, and could faintly see the trembling surface of the lake, but my vision was beginning to blur and morph the moonlight into a faded plane of soft light. My movement was becoming slower now, as an intense sense of guilt grew from my gut and spread to every part of my body, until I did not know what was worse, my lack of air, or the fear of what I had just done. 

I killed her. 

Voices whispered terrifying thoughts in my head, and my mind dipped in and out of consciousness, as I used every last bit of energy I had to move upwards, towards the light. All of a sudden I felt an icy hand grasp on to my ankle. I thrashed and fought as it pulled me down, but the hand held its grip. All at once I felt a wave of exhaustion settle over my body, and my muscles relaxed. A sense of peacefulness flowed into my body, as I began to sink further and further away from the shimmering light. 

Oh M, I’m so sorry. 

The front of the car crashed through a weakened fence, and we plummeted down the side of the road, plunging straight into the inky, black surface of the lake. 

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