I cannot deny that while I was very nervous to do it, foolish was something I was not. The fact is that the very notion of it cleared my head so my thoughts came together in an absolute clarity. Even my senses were heightened, rather than diminished, for my sense of hearing in particular was sharpened drastically. Sadly, my remarkable sense of hearing finally failed me altogether. Now, almost half a century later, I have not heard one sound since that night. Despite this, I have no regrets. Do you think me insane? Insanity is unquestionable, unthinkable even. I never was. You can see how uneasiness does not take over me, and how effortlessly I maintain a sense of calmness as I tell you the story.
Looking back, I can see how I might have appeared rash or impulsive, but I actually took all precautions, I planned out. As a child, I possessed a supreme intelligence beyond my peers, including my twin sister, Lucy. It was soon after the car crash when Lucy unexpectedly took an interest in stars. Her sorrowful eyes not only showed the unmistakable devotion to the stars, but also a deep longing to be with them. Of course the stars were too far away for her to reach, and gazing at them was the closest she thought she could get. So night after night Lucy perched at our bedroom window; a solitary star-gazer.
I remember the night it happened. Lucy and I were reading in the living room, side by side on the sofa. As an 11 year old, I was larger than some my age. By appearance I might have seemed scrawny, but in truth I was well-built. Sitting next to Lucy, my twin, I towered over her. Petite and thin, quite dainty, Lucy was not built like I was. Even her heart was not strong the way mine was. I was able to find happiness; Lucy could not. She was unable to find a way to be content on her own. Even the stars didn’t make Lucy happy. It was unmistakable what she wanted, what she needed. My uncle couldn’t see it, nobody else could see it. I loved my sister, and it was obvious what I had to do.
But you must not speculate whether I am crazy or mad or anything of the sort; I truly am not. It is simply needless to question my sanity, how could I be insane?
I loved Lucy; that was undeniable. As twins, we were generally inseparable, despite our gender difference. We were both fairly quiet, never conversing much, but always enjoying each other’s company. Our room, a decent sized room, was the third story where an attic would have been. The irregular slopes of the walls and ceiling formed strange shadows that fell about the room at night. Some nights, especially when the moon was full, our room would be eerily illuminated with white light from the moon and from the streetlight directly outside the window. The streetlight made a sort of spotlight; the circle of light flooded in a perfect sphere on the cement below. Its glow shed light through our window and made wild shapes form in our room.
Lucy would pretend to study the stars and their patterns, but I knew in reality she was yearning to be there with them. I could even hear her tears fall; an unforgettable sound to my flawless hearing. Each tear would spill out of her eyes and trickle down her cheek, linger at her chin for a instant before suddenly making a plunge toward the floor and splatter heavily on the ground. I would become infuriated watching Lucy. Rage would sweep over me in huge quantities, a possessive anger driving my thoughts.
I counted her tears as they crashed down upon the floor. It must have been several hours that we sat there, because I counted one thousand seventeen tear drops, each falling with a spray that burst throughout the room. The floor began to flood. Saltwater tears were everywhere, not just the floor. They gushed from Lucy’s mournful face and sprayed the walls. Lucy and I were lost in the midst of the water whirling around us. A great happiness rose within me at the sight of this, because I knew that soon, very soon, Lucy would be where she wanted to be. But continuing to watch her, witnessing thousands of tears fall, hearing those dreadful tears plummeting toward the floor, I suddenly possessed energy set off by my rising craze to complete the act. She would not be here any longer! I chuckled, pleased with myself.
Lucy did not notice; she must have been distracted by the water which was starting to soak through her night-clothes. I couldn’t tell you how she continued to stare out the window, unaffected by it all. How could she see through this relentless flood? I couldn’t bear it. Can you blame me? The tear droplets dripping down the walls were deafening, and my ears were throbbing. Even still, louder and louder Lucy’s tears became. Yet all the while, she stood by her window, expectant eyes fixed on the sky above. One never would have guessed the amount of sorrow filling the room, because while Lucy’s weeping sounded horrific to my ears, she acted as if she was fine. Only someone with my sense of hearing could understand what was going on. How could anyone have known? It was up to me, only up to me to put Lucy with her beloved stars.
Cautiously, ever so cautiously I stood up, grimacing at my sister standing at the window, but with excitement building inside of me. I was as quiet as ever, even though it was impossible that any sound could have been heard over her tears. I was impatient, I wanted to get it done with, but I had to be careful. Minute by minute, I took silent, sloshing steps through torrent of tears. I lost track of time. It must have taken days, weeks, or hours. But finally I reached Lucy, and opened the window ever so quietly, so she would not notice. She didn’t. Fresh air flooded into the damp room and I inhaled deeply. Water was spraying between us, almost as if a powerful wind from outside controlled it. And suddenly, an anxiety and uneasiness took hold of me, and I hesitated mid-thought. My hands began to tremble, was my heart racing? But no, I could not second guess this decision. You understand how upset she was? I could not falter any longer. Lucy could at last be up in the sky, she could finally find happiness. Adrenaline surged through me, driven by a sudden, wild frenzy. I reached out, I effortlessly picked Lucy up, holding her softly for a split second. I saw Lucy’s eyes were still turned to the sky. And so I hurled her into the sky: the closest to the stars she could ever get.
I watched as her body sailed into the sky, a petite night-gowned body suddenly so far away, she could have been a star herself. The launch sounded ghastly loud, and I wiped the blood that began to drip down my neck from my poor assaulted ears. I patiently waited and listened, for hours.
Soon enough, the descent began. She appeared to trickle down the flat-looking sky, just as her millions of tears had done. She slowed drastically in mid-air as she passed by the window. I could not see her face but I could hear her tears.
With a sudden, abrupt acceleration, she plummeted to the ground, and heavily thudded on the cement below, sprawled and inert, instead of splashing like her tears. The noise was deafening, I couldn’t take it any longer. I screamed horrifically, I sounded insane even to my own ears. I screamed until there was only silence. A hush fell over the world and I became calm again. I would not have to hear ever again. I was perched at the window, staring up, staring at my sister. The last sound my ears would ever hear was the sound of the streetlight buzzing and crackling on my sister, her body encircled by a bright and illuminating light. Even as the black sky turned to grey and the streetlights died, Lucy’s light glowed as brightly as it ever had.
I scan the horizon as a white-capped swell curls over itself, suddenly closer than I anticipated. My heart races as I quickly assess whether I want to catch this wave, float over it, or duck under it. No time to choose, I realize, and instantly slide off my board and dive under the curling mountain of sea water. Beneath the heaving wave I feel the pressure of water above, and the undertow tugging me from below. My surfboard is caught in the crossfire and tries to drag me along with it. Still underwater, I grab the ankle leash with a strong tug so that when I emerge my board is again safely by my side. Breaking the water’s surface, I shake seaweed from my hair and water out of my ears and realize I am grinning. I hoist myself back onto the board. Flat on my stomach, I paddle out deeper, sit up on my board, turn to face the sea, and wait. The only sounds are waves breaking on the shore, and water lapping at my board. The sun warms my face; my toes are numb. On my board, in the sea, I am in my element.
Ever since I picked up a surfboard at 13, surfing has been a passion. I chose not to take lessons, but to let the ocean teach me instead. This approach succeeded; before long, I had the knack of it and could ride small waves. Surfing revealed aspects of water I had not understood. It showed me how the ocean is unpredictable, dangerous, variable, beautiful and sometimes violent. Waves can swell or crash, diminish or grow, flip sideways or suddenly disappear. Even my board can take on a life of its own when I jump on it, sliding ahead or slipping out from under me when I least expect it. I realized that all aspects of surfing fit, and even complement, me. I have to rely on both learned and natural skills to attempt this sport. From ballet I acquired coordination, balance and grace, from lacrosse I learned to be quick, agile, and alert; weight training helps my muscles to be flexible and strong and swimming daily has given me that most important sixth sense: knowing water.
Not only does surfing require certain physical characteristics, but particular personality traits are helpful as well. An open mind is needed to take on the unpredictable ocean. This reflects my openness to the unknown. I embrace new ideas and different experiences. Surfing demands flexibility; the always-changing tides, wind, temperature and wave size have to be adjusted to, a skill which reflects my ease of adapting to changes in circumstance. I am persistent and determined, as a competitive swimmer must be, and accustomed to being wet for much longer than most people enjoy. And finally, a surfer never knows what type of person will be by their side in the sea: surfing’s encounters have broadened my mind and my view of the world. I know that I will continue to be drawn to all different kinds of people and places and always will embrace opportunities to face a new challenge.