It takes me the day to decide to do it.
My decision comes to me sharp and clarified, piercing my despair with a surge of hope. I play with the possibilities until the light hues of dusk bruise the slate sky. As long as I think about it, my self-destructive mission is not something irrational, something done in a moment of impulse, but rather something contemplated, intelligent, something meant to be.
At first step, the ocean's austerity grabs me, shakes me. I almost turn around, back across the dunes to home. But the prospect of returning to the regularity of my life is stronger than the tide that pulls at my feet. At the ocean's edge, I take off my clothes and let the rush of the high white water snatch them away.
The water is colder than I expected. My nipples harden against the icy sensation. The skin on my arms turns a gooseflesh blue. I watch the bumps spread across my limbs, watching myself watch myself, apart and waiting, and dip my head under the cool surface, lifting my arms up and under. Swim.
The water is salty, stinging my dry, cracked lips, and I begin to loosen, to warm up, with each stroke of my arms, each kick of my legs. I want to make it far, far out, so far that it will take days for my body to wash up.
I do not stop until I am so far out that touching the bottom to grab a handful of sand will take longer than sixty seconds. I figure that it will take me a full two minutes of holding my breath underwater before I begin to get desperate, before I start to suffocate.
Near the buoy that bobs eerily in the high water, I take my plunge, not looking back at the beach, nor pausing to change my mind.
I hold my breath and go under, letting the ocean take control of my destiny, my eyes open and aware. I kick to the bottom, where a mass of black coral grows. This is it. This is how I will die. And this is where.
I grab one corner of the rock, my shaking, bruised fingers slicing against the sharpness of the coral. I stick my whole hand inside a small nook, attaching my feet to another cranny, and wait for something, some feeling of finality, to rush over me.
At first I fight against myself, kicking and flailing to stay under as my body becomes detached from the rocks, willing to stay alive. I drink seawater in thick gulps, trying to calm my nervous heart. I do not want my drowning to be a struggle. I want to end peacefully, letting the cool ocean fill me, fill my senses.
A cloud darkens the water. With one hand, I grasp the sand. The fine grains slip through my fingers. In the greyish mist of the water, a fish appears, long and silver with a slash of a tail. It swims toward me, slowly and effortlessly, unperturbed by my desperate gasps. An inch from my face, it stops its journey and stares at me; its scales throb seductively, and I cannot help thinking what a beautiful fish it is. Its eyes are medium blue, dark and unblinking. They stare at me through the haze of the falling sun setting just above the water's surface. The small mouth gapes open and sends tiny bubbles rising and rising to the very top.
I reach out and touch the fish, amazed at its softness, amazed it is not slimy to the touch. It flinches, sensitive to my finger's brush against its body, but before beginning its descent into the deeper parts of the ocean, it allows a kiss of breath, a burst of bubble to touch my battered lips.
I fight against myself in a rush, angrily bursting upward. Crashing through the surface, I cough and spit, gasping and choking for a breath, and allow the good air to burn entirely through my lungs.