Awhile back I came across news of an online journal that was being established for writers with disabilities. Naturally, this caught my eye. A platform where writers with first-hand experience with disabilities could share their perspectives and have their voices heard? Yes please! Long story short, one of my fictional short stories was chosen to be published! You can find the original publication here on snap journal or read it below. Enjoy!
Moments of Freedom
By Steph Dower
“No way! I told you I can’t swim.”
I turned my chair around and started driving away. Is he actually crazy? I’ve just told him I can’t swim and he wants to throw me in a pool!
Suddenly he’s in front of me, blocking my path. I look up at him as he leans towards me, supporting himself on the arm rests either side of me. He’s so close. An overwhelming desire sweeps through me. If I just move my head forward an inch, our lips would be touching.. I’d actually be kissing him. My head begins to spin.
“Do you know the best part about diving into a pool?” He asks. “It’s that moment when you are completely free from any physical object or surface. It’s a moment of freedom that you can’t get anywhere else. Well, unless you’re like a base jumper or something, but let’s start with landing in water first.” A crooked smile breaks across his face. I haven’t been able to get that smile out of my head lately. I’m sure he can see the worry that must be etched across my face.
“Do you trust me?”
My automatic response should be NO! I barely know this guy. We’ve been well, I’d guess you'd say friends for less than 2 weeks and yet, my entire being feels comfortable around him. Right on cue though, my brain is doing its usual freak out at anything outside of my comfort zone. I’m sick of thinking! I just want to do something. Be impulsive, take a chance!
I look at the pool, it’s crystal blue water looks so inviting. “Sure… I guess.” As soon as the words leave my mouth he lifts me up and whisks me towards the water. I scream! Suddenly I feel his body disappear from around mine, and everything else falls away from me. I’m free! Nothing is holding onto me or supporting me. It feels amazing! Then my stomach drops, as does the rest of me, and a rush of water engulfs me. This was the part my brain had every right to freak out over. Then, there’s a muffled splash from about a metre away. Hands start grabbing at me and pull me to the surface. A sharp intake of breath brings me back to reality, and then I open my eyes. I’m met by a face filled with wild excitement with just a hint of trepidation. My heart is beating so fast, I think I’m in shock. A weird sound, something like a scream, escapes my mouth and then suddenly I can’t do anything but laugh which he soon joins in on.
“Oh my god, I can’t believe you just did that! I can’t believe I just did that!” I gasp. My mind is racing as I try to regain control of my body. The hysterical laughter slows then subsides.
“What did I tell you?” he beamed.
Awhile later, I’m lying wet, cold and dirty in a nearby yard. I stare up at the slow moving clouds surrounded by bright blue sky. An unexplainable wide grin stretches across my face. My chair sits empty to my right, and the beautiful guy who has totally shaken up my world, lies to my left. I can him studying me, so I turn my head to meet his gaze. My grin disappears suddenly and is replaced by an emotion that I’m unfamiliar with. What is it?
I’ve never actually looked this intensely into someone else’s eyes before. In fact, I can’t remember ever looking into anyone else’s eyes, like never. I feel naked, it’s too intimate. I swear that he can see every single one of these thoughts as they scroll across my face. Yet, I can’t look away. I feel like this is the first time that I’ve ever truly connected with another human being. I didn’t realise until this exact moment how much I had been craving this kind of connection.
I don’t see anxiety or pity in his eyes. I only see the understanding of an equal. I actually feel comfortable with him which scares me to no end. What if he wakes up and realises that this isn’t the life he wants, and I have to live the rest of my life never feeling this kind of connection again? Stop! Stop overthinking it. A minute ago you were free and happy, maybe more than you ever have been before. Go back to that feeling. You’ll learn to live with whatever comes next. You always have.
“I might be wet and dirty right now, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt this free.” I confess.
He smiles in agreement. “It’s true, the best parts of freedom usually do involve a little dirt.”
We both laugh. This just feels so, so easy. I turn my head back to the clouds. “Can you promise me something?”
“If I ever get too caught up in my own head again, be sure to throw me back in the pool.”
I look at him from the corner of my eye. He turns his head towards the clouds, matching my relaxed posture.
“Done, and I’ll always jump in right after you.”