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Gasping for air. Feel like I can’t breathe.
The water is blurring my vision, filling my lungs.
Got to reach the top. If only I can reach the top and find some air.

My Daddy did things to me at night when it was just the two of us that felt good at first, but then hurt and made me feel frightened. He said I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone, it was our special secret and if I did he’d do the same to my little brother. I didn’t want that. Oh, I didn’t want that. So I let him keep hurting me. I knew there was something wrong with me because special things are meant to make you feel happy and I only felt sad. Sick and scared and sad….. Can’t breathe. No air. Go away. Stop it. STOP IT. But I couldn’t say and I couldn’t talk. And I’d be left with only the sound of my heartbeat, feeling so alone, so ashamed, so sore. I didn’t dare move at all. I’d lie motionless, listening until long after I’d heard his footsteps go. Then I’d try to count to a hundred before letting the tears unfreeze and stream down my face and the sobs come out. I tried to be quiet so I wouldn’t wake anyone up, and would curl up tight in a ball, breathing warm air in and out against my knees until I fell asleep.

Gasping for air. Feel like I can’t breathe.
Got to reach the top. If only I can reach the top and find some air.

I drowned, nearly, in a pool when I was three. Two years later the drowning began again, of a different sort, and it didn’t stop for a long, long time. But We Were Different, so how was I to know, what’s right, what’s wrong? Others breathe air and live. I breathe the air I can and die, inside, night after night. No-one looks on the inside, no-one cares, no-one sees or knows a thing. Ketchup and singing and playing and climbing trees. Just me and him; our little secret. Mouth effectively plugged up, silenced, dumb. But now the telling begins and I’m nearing the top. I’m nearing the top. Surfacing, and there’s no going back down.