Needles (Sandcastle 3.09)


My cramped fingers finally lose their hold on the porous rock. My heart hurdles into my throat. I gasp, arms pin-wheeling, flailing, searching for something, anything but air — there! A pine bough. Needles slip through my grip in little bursts of sticky sap that pierce the arctic air with a spicy fragrance.

I’m falling.

I grasp at the empty sky. A startled flock flies above me, taunting me with their wings like angels leering down at the damned soul that was pushed over the Pit’s edge. The water catches me like a sheet of pristine glass shattering with my body. The cold. It steals what little breath I’d gasped, stabs me like a thousand needles — not the bits of pine I’d taken with me, but the glass shards driving deep into my bones, the slivers that paralyze my muscles instantly.

I clutch for the rocks, the pines, even the air this time. Only water. I wish I’d known to gasp harder, deeper, to fill my lungs before the plunge.

The bubbles trickle out from my nose. My lungs are stretching, tearing; they finally break in a rush of bubbles racing each other to the top, laughing all the way to the surface, just beyond the reach of my frozen fingertips.

I know I shouldn’t. I know what it will mean. But I can’t help it; I breathe in the needles. My body seizes in rejection, coughs the last of the bubbles, gasps again. The cold fills me inside and out, so numbing I feel as if I’ve been wrapped in a blanket. My muscles jerk, one final effort to keep living, but my heart has been slowly dying ever since it started beating, anyway.

I still.

Above me, the bubbles break across the kaleidoscope of clouds and blue sky framed by the watching pines.

I was scared. Now, I’m just sleepy. Calm. Death welcomes me to its bed. Dying, I don’t regret. We all have to do it. What I do regret is dying with untold stories.


*** All works are fiction. The events, characters, and narrator(s) in flash fiction pieces are not intended to accurately portray any real persons, living or dead. ***



3 thoughts on “Needles (Sandcastle 3.09)

  1. I remember almost drowning at the Camp Ondessonk swimming hole in 8th grade. I was swimming with a bunch of kids at the camp. I’d fallen off of a “big” floating wooden board that everyone was playing around. I went under the water surface and was desperately trying to get back to the top. There were so many kids swimming that I kept swimming into all the legs dangling in the water. Finally with one last kick I got up and out. I sometimes think of that episode in my life. I could have easily died. I am so glad that I didn’t because I now know of all of the things that I would have missed if I had drown that day.

    1. Oh, wow! I’ve never really come close to drowning, but I often relate the sensation of a panic attack to what I think drowning might feel like.

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