Paint Chips in My Coffee: An Excerpt

The water is now up to my waistline and panic has formally settled over me. A light breeze intermittently clears my face of the flyaway strands of hair that formerly sat flush with my skin, wet and saturated. This provides to me a fleeting sense of calmness, though I don’t remember opening a window. That would be something difficult to rationalize in late autumn. A quick, squinting glance outside, however, offers an idyllic scene: the trees across the street seem newly blossoming, cottony fibers dancing gently in the air.

I hear a bark reminiscent of Wyckoff’s in the distance. He sounds distressed. I call for him but as the barks continue, I can’t make out from which direction they’re coming. They seem to beg from a new location each time. I begin to think that if I look quickly enough, I’ll see him there; it becomes dizzying. My anxiety is magnified tenfold by the entirety of the situation, and whether or not the room is actually spinning is beyond my comprehension. It’s not out of the question given what’s happened thus far.

It isn’t long before I lose my footing; the room spins faster now as I fall backwards into the milky, lathery water. As I sink, residual bits of conversation from dinner swirl around in my head. Exchanges that didn’t even occur are making themselves prevalent—perhaps suppressed thoughts that never made it up through the esophagus, but rather stayed hidden and festering in the lining of the stomach. I can hear Mom and Dad weighing in, though they tend to keep quiet during familial altercations. It’s best to stay impartial, they always said.

Should I still be sinking? The water was not that deep, yet I feel like I’ve been falling for tens of minutes. I open my eyes to see light not too far off, askew by the rippling surface. …

To be continued.

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